“Game Seven,” the two sweetest words in the lexicon of NBA basketball lovers. The San Antonio Spurs verses the Los Angeles Clippers has been the series of the first round by a country mile. Whatever the result tonight, I am utterly convinced that we will be losing 1 of the 4 best teams in the entire league. It is a terrible shame that the two teams have met this early, but now that we are here lets enjoy it.
The closer this gets, the more I’m coming to realise that this is the biggest game of Chris Paul’s and Blake Griffin’s lives. I love Paul, and he has been very unlucky with playoff match ups his entire career, but if they lose tonight with in my opinion a more talented group of players than the Spurs, then this whole Clippers experiment has failed. NBA reporters are on record saying that if they don’t advance trading Griffin is on the table. This is very likely Paul’s best ever shot at a title run. This game could not have more at stake for them.
Lets return to the Spurs, and why I’m picking them to win tonight(against the odds, even though I believe the Clippers have more talented players(in their starting 5.) And yes I am aware of the statistic that 80% of game 7’s are won by the home team. But the Spurs are no ordinary team.
Game 6 was an anomaly, Kawhi Leonard had an off night going 3-15 and Timmy Duncan was limited by foul trouble and had to sit for large periods of the second half. As things stand at the moment, those 2 guys are the Spurs best players, and the players who have carried them on offense this series. This could be Duncan’s last ever game(which is why I would recommend everyone reading this to watch this, the guy is in my book the greatest power forward of all times) he is not going to go out without imploring his will on the game. Kawhi simply had an off night shooting the ball, but the guy is crazy talented, and showed us against Miami last year what he can do in pivotal games.
The problem in game 6 was that they just didn’t have enough scoring. Their famed pace and space offense was thrown off by the Clippers aggresiveness. With Tony Parker hobbled with injury, and Manu Ginobili playing poorly* not enough others have stood up. As a person who has watched hours and hours of San Antonio play basketball, usually their scoring is spread out evenly with 1 or 2 guys leading the way. Guys like Danny Green Boris Diaw and Patty Mills need to chip in with 8-10 points, and Marco Belinelli also, who had a huge game 6. However they still need guys like Kawhi and Duncan to get theirs points.
Pop will have this team ready to put in a huge game, and I’d be predicting Kawhi, Timmy, Diaw, and Ginobili(feeling he’s in for a big night) to lead them to victory. I’ve written before on the greatness of Popovich as a coach, and I have complete confidence in his ability to get his team ready to put in a huge performance tonight
The Clippers are really good, and if basketball was a game of 3 quarters that lasted 10 minutes each I would pick them tonight. They have an extremely talented starting 5, who they rely on for nearly all their scoring. But there bench is wafer thin, with no depth. After Crawford, they can’t really rely on anyone. They lost Big Baby Davis to injury in the last game, an injury which shouldn’t cripple any team claiming to have championship aspirations, but he has been their number 1 guy off the bench in the front court, and has been one of their few solid rotation guys. Austin Rivers does not inspire fear in anyone, he is incompetent on offense and flaky on the other end.
Every Clippers starter — Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan — is averaging more than 28 minutes per game. The Paul-Redick-Griffin-Jordan quartet is averaging 38.9 minutes per contest: San Antonio, for context, has just two players averaging more than 30 minutes per game in this series. Astonishingly the Clippers only have three bench players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. You can only pull on your starters so long before they snap, and losing one of their biggest front-line contributors in Davis would be a devastating loss.
Back to San Antonio, and I’ll leave you with some quotes from Popovich and Duncan. Whatever the results, this game is unmissable, whether you are a basketball fan or not, you will enjoy this spectactle. Fight fans, we got you, Mayweather Pacquiao is on directly after the game. So buckle up for an amazing night of sport”
“We have to move the ball and play to win. You can’t hold the basketball. When someone is physical and you hold the ball, the whole thing is exacerbated. You can’t get anything done.” – Popovich is known for getting his team back on track after a poor performance, and I’m guessing he doesn’t allow the offense become stagnated again tonight
” We understand the pressure that’s there and we understand the magnitude of the game,” Duncan said. “We understand that we can play better than we did tonight. … We will be ready.””
No better conveyed the sense of excitement involved in a game 7 than Zaza Pachulia in this immortal clip from a few years ago. This is how all NBA fans feel a this moment!
*Ginobili is always good for one huge game in a series no matter how poor he is playing
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