ALL THEY DO IS WIN
8 down, 8 to go.
The Spurs have now won 18 straight games dating back to the regular season and are a perfect 8-0 in these playoffs after sweeping the Utah Jazz in the opening round and now the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semi-finals.
This will be the 7th Western Conference Finals appearance for the Spurs in the Duncan-Popovich era.
Just when you think San Antonio is dead in the water, they come roaring back like a phoenix rising from the ashes to take back what is theirs.
They have no weakness. They have it all. They score the basketball, they defend at an elite level, they have tremendous leadership and coaching with Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich and they are deeper than the Atlantic Ocean.
Tim Duncan has entered the fountain of youth and turned back the clock on his body to the point where he’s playing the game of basketball as if he were 10 years younger. In just 30 minutes of action last night, Duncan had 21 points on 9 for 14 shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. If he continues playing at this pace through the next round and beyond, the Spurs will be unstoppable.
The bench stepped up in a big way in game 4 and proved once again that depth in the postseason may be the most important benefactor of all. Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal combined for 36 points on 14 for 23 shooting.
The only thing I worry about moving forward for San Antonio is that they will now have a full week off before the next round begins. It didn’t hurt them moving from the first to second rounds, but to be fair, the Spurs haven’t been truly challenged as of yet.
A Conference Final matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder is on the horizon. The Clippers and Jazz pale in comparison to what the Thunder will throw at San Antonio. Sitting around for a week isn’t what the Spurs need right now. All momentum can easily be lost by this time next week.
I hope that won’t be the case. The Spurs look damn good. They don’t lose. How could you pick against them?
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Say what you will about Los Angeles being swept and how easily they were handled by the Spurs. The fact of the matter is the Clippers were never in the same league as the San Antonio Spurs. They weren’t ready to compete with a team as dominating as the Spurs.
This series was a stepping stone to see where the Clippers are as a basketball team and where they stand amongst the best teams in the Western Conference. Defeating the Memphis Grizzlies was a good start, but the roadblock that is the Spurs stunted their progress. There is absolutely no shame in being swept by a team that is the clear-cut favorite (as of now) to win it all.
Chris Paul finally had a half-decent offensive game after scoring 23 points on 9 for 18 shooting. He also grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 9 assists. Paul also hit one of the more incredible shots you will ever see late in the fourth quarter that tied the game with 2:30 left in the game.
It’s just a shame that this scoring spurt came so late in the series that it really didn’t mean much in the end. Despite all of that, Chris Paul must be happy with the progress the franchise and team as a whole made with him leading the way. I would be very surprised to see CP3 choose to take his talents elsewhere. He has a good thing going with Los Angeles. The proof is in the pudding.
Blake Griffin had his second straight amazing playoff performance with 21 points and 5 rebounds. He scored 12 of his 21 in the third quarter alone. During the course of this series, Griffin showed more of a post game and really showed improvement with his offensive skills. He still has a lot of room to grow as an offensive player in the pain, but his potential to grow is out of this world.
The Clippers need to improve on their ability to close out games. L.A led for a majority of the fourth quarter before squandering the lead to San Antonio. I’m not saying that a game 4 victory would have led to some sort of miraculous series comeback, but extending it to a game 5 and ending the Spurs undefeated streak would have been a nice feather in the Clippers cap.
In no way was this season a failure for the Clippers. A playoff appearance alone would have made this series a success, but defeating the Grizzlies in 7 games just made this year that much sweeter. Perhaps it was enough to convince Paul to stick around just a tad bit longer.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”We needed a game like that. It arrived at the perfect time. We battled. We executed our plays, made big baskets.” – Spurs guard Tony Parker
”We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve won two rounds. We haven’t done anything so you can’t qualify or classify our team as anything other than that we’ve gotten this far.” – Spurs forward Tim Duncan
TWEET OF THE GAME
Tim Duncan doesn’t hesitate. He calculates.
— Rob Mahoney (@RobMahoney) May 21, 2012
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports