It's loud outside of the AT&T Center and music is blasting for what seems like a huge party. That music, however, is for the San Antonio Spurs' fans as the Spurs finally have a game to host after eight days off. The Spurs will be hosting the "Lob City" Los Angeles Clippers, only "Lob City" is more like "we're banged up city" today.
"We're banged up," said Clipper head coach Vinny Del Negro, a former Spur, "but we can't worry about that right now." The Clippers sustained a multitude of injuries in their first round win against the physical Memphis Grizzlies that took seven games to decide. Blake Griffin is having knee issues, Caron Butler has a broken hand, and Chris Paul also isn't 100% according to Del Negro, but all are ready to battle against San Antonio.
"They're going to come out with a lot of energy," said Del Negro of the Spurs, "we've got to match them." What's so difficult about the Spurs according to Del Negro is that they score the ball at a high rate, and they spread their opponents out. "We've got to get out on our closeouts," said Del Negro of stopping the Spurs' three point shooting.
Asked if the Spurs have the coaching edge in this series, Del Negro quickly said, "absolutely," but he also credits his former coach Gregg Popovich for helping him excel into the coach he's become today. "He's helped me tremendously," said Del Negro of Pop.
From Del Negro's perspective, upsetting San Antonio would be a huge accomplishment, but not a miracle.
For the Spurs and coach Pop, their main agenda will be trying to stop Paul. "Obviously he has skills," said Pop of Paul, "he has an uncanny bio-mechanic about him. You add in the intangibles," continued Pop, "(and) he's out there to kick your butt."
- "We talked about it everyday," said Pop of the Spurs initially not knowing if they'd play the Grizzlies or the Clippers in the second round.
- "I think it's fantastic," said Pop of rookie Kawhi Leonard being selected for the U.S.'s Select Squad.
- In the Clippers locker room, Nick Young, Reggie Evans, and a few other players were loose and relaxed. In the Spurs' locker room, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard were focused in and watching game tape with their usual, quiet, focused attitude.
- In pregame shoot around, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was working on his post moves. Reggie Evans was working on his inside jumper inside of 10-feet. Danny Green was working on his catch-and-pump fake drill, while Duncan, Parker, and Neal were all working on their jump shots.