Game 5 Western Conference Playoffs: San Antonio Spurs at L.A. Clippers

Chris Paul has posted the highest PER of all-time for a point guard, but this could be his best postseason thus far.
Chris Paul has posted the highest PER of all-time for a point guard, but this could be his best postseason thus far.

San Antonio Spurs at L.A. Clippers
Time: 10:35 PM EST
Spread: LAC -2
Total: 204
(Series tied 2-2)

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The L.A. Clippers won game 4 after suffering a horrible blowout loss in Game 3. The win tied the series 2-2 as it shifts back to Los Angeles for Game 5. NBA oddsmakers are favoring the Clippers to emerge with the series lead, setting the NBA live line 2-points in favor of the hosting team. Game 4 featured the two teams combining for 219 points, and the total for this contest is set at 204. For an explanation of what this means our NBA odds are explained.

Chris Paul really wants to bring the Clippers its first title, and advancing past the defending champion Spurs would be a huge notch in his belt. He was the star of Game 4, putting up 34 points on 11 of 19 shooting (10 of 10 free throws), while dishing out seven assists and turning it over just twice. Paul set up Blake Griffin, who had a monster game of his own: 20 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists. With CP3 and Blake both playing that well, the Clippers can win this series.

The Spurs boast a superior system and bench, but the Clips led by four at the half and outscored the Spurs 33-29 in the fourth quarter. J.J. Redick also had a nice shooting game, hitting three triples and finishing with 17 points.

The Clippers finished the game with 24 assists on 45 field goals, while hitting 53.6 percent from the floor a a team. The Spurs only turned it over eight times, but shot 44 percent from the floor and hit just 6 of 25 from three-point range. Danny Green was 0 of 6 from the floor (all threes) and center Tiago Splitter was also 0 of 5. Tony Parker had a nice game offensively (18 points) but was a step slow on stopping Chris Paul the entire game. Paul may have more desire in this series, since Parker has already won four rings. Perhaps that is an irrelevant outlook, but thus far Paul has shown more intensity and effort, willing the Clips to the Game 4 win.

Summing up Games 2 and 3:

The Spurs had a Game 2 win that took the form of a 10-point win in the extra period. Tim Duncan accepted blame that it ever came down to overtime, but the veteran came through despite his own assessments and the Spurs tied the series 1-1. NBA oddsmakers are expecting the Spurs to carry that momentum through into a home victory. With the series shifting back to San Antonio, the Spurs are 4.5 point favorites in NBA live odds. The total is set at 203, and for an explanation of how to bet those odds see our NBA odds explained.

Manu Ginobili knows that there has been a Jekkyl/Hide situation affecting his team all season. He commented that “seeing the team play like this today was very important. Hopefully we bring the same sense of urgency (in game 3)…” That sense of urgency has to be there because if its not it could result in the defending champs going down in the first round.

The regular season was very uncharacteristically average for the Spurs, and to be a No. 6 seed must be humbling after dominating the regular season in 2013-14.

Danny Green also filled in well for the fouled-out Manu Ginobili. The Spurs familiarity with the system and depth leads to just about any unit doing well on the court, which can’t even be said for other teams with great benches. With Parker and Ginobili going out, one got a glimpse of how little it will matter as the talents turn over in this organization. Parker is a few years away from degeneration age, but he’s readily replaced with Mills, who can be a very big threat.

More respect is afforded to Mills within players circles, because the pure basketball skills he possesses are readily apparent to other players. He had 18 points on 5 of 9 shooting while posting a plus-5 differential, the second best of any reserve (Matt Bonner’s plus-8 in five minutes aren’t a significant sample size though really).

The Spurs’ Boris Diaw had a very solid game and helped San Antonio sneak out to a 5-point lead at the half. Diaw hit 3 of 4 from the floor in the first quarter as the Spurs went up four, and he was very active in the fourth quarter, going 2 of 5 from the field with four shots in the paint. Diaw is an integral part of the Spurs’ symphony, and he keeps the offense flowing with great high post passing. San Antonio can thrive just with Diaw and Duncan moving the ball, and the Spurs had 26 assists on its 42 field goals in the game. San Antonio also only had nine turnovers in 53 minutes of basketball, while the Clips had 11, five of which came from Blake Griffin.

While the Clippers may have only been credited with that many turnovers, the number of bad shots forced due to play-disruption resulted in the Clippers shooting just 42 percent from the field. San Antonio can put the lid on the basket as well as any team in the league, and the Spurs showed that it is defense that can win this series for them.

Game 3 The Spurs crushed the Clippers in an embarrassing shocker for Doc Rivers’ club. San Antonio held the Clippers to just 11 points in the third quarter and LAC shot 34 percent from the floor as a team. Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard scored at will, knocking down 13 of 18 from the floor and 3 of 5 from three-point range. Gregg Popovich commented on Leonard’s determined efforts which leave little room for emotional showboating. He’s stepped into the max contract he is all but certain to receive as he enters restricted free agency.

Tim Duncan had a quiet night, taking just six field goals, but he made his impact known defensively, swatting three shots and contesting a seemingly innumerable amount that helped limit Blake Griffin to six field goals while shutting Chris Paul down to the tune of 3 of 11 from the floor to go with six turnovers and only four assists. Credit a lot of that effort to Tony Parker and Danny Green, but Paul could not get much of anything going, which gave The Spurs a chance to dig into its bench and give minutes to Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills, who collectively scored 17 of the Spurs 36 bench points.

The Spurs have one of the most productive second units in the NBA, largely a product of Popovich’s systems maximizing the talents of even the likes of the one-dimensional shooter Matt Bonner. The Spurs may have been the lower seed (6 vs. 3) in this series, but that came with the heavy annotation that it is the repeating champs.

Notes:  Blake Griffin is dealing with a shoulder injury but is expected to play.  The same applies to Matt Barnes, also with a shoulder injury.  San Antonio’s Aron Baynes is struggling with shoulder issues, as well, but is likely to play.  It’s the series for shoulder injuries.

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