Spurs - Clippers Game 7 Preview
WILL THE SPURS DYNASTY END SATURDAY?! OR, IS THIS ALL JUST A REPLAY OF LAST YEAR'S SLOW START?
The topsy-turvy best-of-seven first round NBA series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers will finally come to an end Saturday evening at the Staples Center. That's the home court of the Clippers...but home court advantage hasn't meant anything in this series! The Spurs are actually 2-1 in Los Angeles, while the Clippers are 2-1 in the Alamo City.
It's been an awkward series for all involved...from coaches and players to fans and handicappers. Both teams are extremely talented...but neither is playing with enough consistency to seal the deal. Coach Gregg Popovich in particular keeps pulling as many levers as he can. But, there's just no way to know in advance which of his shooters is going to blow hot while another blows cold. And...how can you anticipate a 3 of 15 shooting night from Kawhi Leonard?
Doc Rivers of the Clippers has fewer weapons in his arsenal. But, the ones he has are capable of winning if they play their typical games. They won Game Six Thursday in Texas despite getting outscored in bench points 48-15.
Before trying to handicap Game Seven, let's review the key stats from Game Six...
GAME SIX STATS
LA Clippers 102, San Antonio 96
Shooting Pct: Clippers 48%, San Antonio 43%
Three-Pointers: Clippers 4/18, San Antonio 12/28
Free Throws: Clippers 22/31, San Antonio 12/21
Rebounds: Clippers 43, San Antonio 44
Turnovers: Clippers 10, San Antonio 13
Vegas Line: San Antonio by 5.5, total of 206.5
Wow...the Spurs were +32 points from behind the arc but still lost by six anyway. That gives you a dramatic sense of how dominant the Clippers were inside the arc. If you add up scoring on 1's and 2's (free throws and two-point field goals), LAC posted a 90-60 rout. Is this the series where Tim Duncan hands the baton to Blake Griffin as the most dominant big man in the West? Griffin sure is making a great case for himself.
There just aren't any sure things in this series because of the volatility inherent with both squads. The Clippers don't have any margin for error. The starters MUST get the job done. That's tougher to do with tired legs. The Spurs are better suited to a long grind like this. But, that doesn't matter if the old guys are just too old to produce on command (Tony Parker was 4 of 12 Thursday night, while Manu Ginobili was 1 of 6). San Antonio only had two fast break points in the whole game!
The "flow" of the series arguably favors the road underdog. The Spurs usually don't play two bad playoff games in a row. They certainly have a lot more experience closing out important postseason series than the Clippers do. This is part of why Thursday's result was a surprise. San Antonio is supposed to know how to win those games! The zig-zag is moving back toward the Spurs. LAC will have to figure out how to play at a peak level for an additional 48 minutes with a roster that must be dealing with gas tank issues (which weren't helped by the injury to Big Baby Davis).
Las Vegas Line: LA Clippers by 2, total of 204
Here's another interesting angle...home court advantage has historically loomed very large in Game Sevens. Yet, we're dealing with a series where it may not even exist! The market is basically sticking with its earlier pricing figuring that will split the action. It's easy to see this one missing the mark by at least five points in either direction. San Antonio gets back on track and advances...or the Clippers grab destiny by the throat.
JIM HURLEY loves handicapping Game Sevens because the final scoreboard margin is often far away from the Vegas price. His trend historians know all tendencies and percentages. His statheads know which boxscore categories matter most in a seventh game. His computer programmers can run simulations that factor in those additional elements. And, the last line of defense...the Wise Guy connections can confirm how the smart money is hitting the board.
It's all going to add up to a BIG, JUICY WINNER for YOU!
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Back tomorrow with a full series preview for the Golden State Warriors vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. That begins on Sunday. Monday brings a preview for the Cleveland Cavaliers/Chicago Bulls series that begins that evening. Then, we'll know out the other two matchups as they hit the schedule. Round Two is going to be even more intense than Round One...particularly in what is now a wide-open Eastern Conference!
Whatever the sport...whatever the handicapping challenge...JIM HURLEY is going to get you to the winner's circle!
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