San Antonio Spurs News

Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers

Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs players (from left to right) Danny Green and Pau Gasol and Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (20) watch on the bench during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs players (from left to right) Danny Green and Pau Gasol and Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (20) watch on the bench during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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With the trade deadline finally in the rear-view mirror, San Antonio basketball is back. The Spurs will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers, looking to avenge their first two losses of the season. Will they succeed?

After a nine-day hiatus, Spurs basketball is back!

The Spurs will take their 43-13 record into the Staples Center, looking to get over the hump and beat the Clippers for the first time this season. The Clippers won the first matchup in San Antonio, 116-92, and the second matchup in LA, 106-101.

The Spurs and Clippers have two more games left in the season. Best case scenario for the Spurs is tying the regular season series at two a piece.

Luckily, the Spurs have a few things working in their favor.

Spurs will likely list Pau Gasol (hand) and Manu Ginobili (ankle) as probable for tomorrow vs Clips.

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 23, 2017

The first is the return of Pau Gasol.

Gasol has been sidelined since January 19th due to a fractured hand he suffered prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets. The Spurs went 11-4 in his absence.

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However, the record doesn’t serve Gasol’s worth any justice. Although the Spurs went 11-4 in his absence, his presence on the offensive end was evident. The Spurs struggled to score.

On January 19th (Gasol’s injury), the Spurs were averaging 107.1 points per game, eighth in the NBA. As of today, the Spurs are averaging 106.7 points per game, 11th in the NBA.

The Spurs will also welcome back Manu Ginobli, who had tweaked his ankle last Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. Thankfully, the injury looked worse than it was.

Despite not making a power move at the deadline, the Spurs will welcome a healthy roster for the first time in over a month. Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge aren’t the “Twin Towers” down in New Orleans, but they’ll have to bring their A game to contend with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Doc Rivers says Chris Paul out vs Warriors tonight, is "iffy" against Spurs tomorrow night

— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 24, 2017

Not only do the Spurs welcome a healthy roster, but they may face a Clippers team without the services of their star point guard, Chris Paul.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Chris Paul "could play" against Warriors. Rivers said CP has been medically cleared. So we wait and see

— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 22, 2017

Paul’s status for tonight’s game is unclear. On Wednesday, Paul was medically cleared, but coach Doc Rivers held him out of yesterday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Maybe Rivers thought Paul playing in a back-to-back was to much too soon, and held him out.

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Obviously, with Paul in the lineup, the Clippers have the best chance of victory. However, the Clippers are still formidable without him. They were beating the Warriors at halftime in Golden State until the Warriors exploded for 50 points in the third to pull away and win the game.

Considering Paul was medically cleared on Wednesday, it’s safe to say that Paul is more likely to suit up and play against the Spurs than sitting two straight games.

If so, Paul will play in his first hame in over a month, and Clippers fans should expect some type of rust from a hiatus of that length. Gasol hasn’t played in over a month either, and Spurs fans should expect him to be rusty as well.

If both teams are at full strength for tonight’s matchup, who wins?

The Verdict

A healthy Spurs versus a healthy Clippers is a phenomenal matchup.

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  • Both teams rely on their front-court to rebound, defend at a high-level, and help each other score in the post. Both teams also rely heavily on their point guard play, as pick-and-roll and ball movement are key functions of these offenses.

    Offensively, the Clippers are a bit more explosive. They are averaging 108.0 points per game this season, eighth in the NBA. The Spurs are averaging 106.7 points per game, 11th in the NBA.

    Defensively, the Spurs are dominant. The Spurs are allowing opponents to score 98.4 points per game, second in the NBA. The Clippers allow 104.5 points per game, 11th in the NBA.

    Ultimately, the Spurs have the advantage heading into this matchup. Why? The Clippers are on a second game of a back-to-back, coming off an intense matchup against the Warriors.

    Meanwhile, the Spurs are coming off nine days rest, and welcome back their starting center.

    Without Paul, the Spurs will have a much easier time defending the Clippers, and will likely win by double digits, because their shorthanded backcourt will suffer from fatigue tonight.

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    With Paul, this game goes down to the wire. Not only is Paul their greatest player, but he is their greatest motivator, and Paul knows the season is slipping away from the Clippers.

    Prediction

    Paul makes his return, but falls short to Gasol and the Spurs.

    Paul has a 20-10 game, and Kawhi Leonard has another 30-point performance.

    Spurs win, 112-107.

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