CLIPPERS-SPURS GAME TWO PREVIEW
Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 5/17/12

SAN ANTONIO-To some extent the next few days of the Clippers-Spurs second round playoff series may feel somewhat like the truncated regular season.

Beginning with Thursday's Game 2, the teams play three games in four days, including a Saturday afternoon-Sunday night back-to-back.

But before looking too far ahead, the Clippers remain intent on taking a game from the top-seeded Spurs at AT&T Center.

"We can definitely beat these guys, we just have to become better defensively," forward Blake Griffin said after the Clippers' Game 1 loss. "We scored the ball decently, but we can't give them as many open looks."

Shoring up the defense and fixing their turnover problems (16 in Game 1) were points of emphasis during Wednesday's practice.

GAME 2
AT&T CENTER | San Antonio, TX
May 17, 2012 | 6:30 PM (PST)
TV: ESPN
RADIO: KFWB 980 AM
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"We've got to get ready for tomorrow night," head coach Vinny Del Negro said Wednesday. "If you have any lulls against a team like the Spurs, they're going to make you pay for it. They have good counters, they got us on some backdoor stuff. We've got to do a better job on the glass. It's easy to talk about, we've got to do it tomorrow, more consistently and be able to lock in better in terms of executing the plan."

LAST TIME OUT

Spurs 108, Clippers 92 (Spurs lead series, 1-0): It was a battle of in rhythm but possibly fatigued versus well-rested but possibly rusty. The Clippers were coming off the end of an arduous seven-game series in Memphis, while the Spurs had not played in eight days after sweeping the Jazz in the first round. In the first 20-22 minutes of the game, it appeared the Clippers might be primed for a Game 1 upset.

But the Spurs made too many 3-pointers and converted too many Clippers' turnovers into easy baskets as they protected home court with a 16-point victory.

Still, much like they have all season, the Clippers made a push in the final quarter. L.A. cut an 18-point Spurs lead to 90-82 with the ball in hand and 8:43 left in the game. But consecutive misses, a pair of free throws by rookie Kawhi Leonard, and a one-handed turnaround bank shot by Tim Duncan stifled the run.

"If you've watched them, they always come back," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "They don't fold and that's a credit to their team. They just keep on playing and stick within the system. They've come back many, many times as we've all seen. I think that's who they are and I thought our small lineup didn't do a very good job for a period there when they came back on us."

Reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe keyed the late rally and finished with a team-high 23 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Caron Butler added 15 points and Griffin had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Duncan led the Spurs with a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, and Leonard each scored 15 or more. GAME RECAP

REVISITING THE SCOUTING REPORT (Round Two Scouting Report (prior to Game 1)

Prior to the start of the series, Clippers.com talked with a Western Conference front office executive and an advance scout from an opposing team to get a read on the Clippers-Spurs matchup. Here are a few key sections of the scouting report with notes on how they played out in Game 1.

It's important for the Spurs to hit their threes. It's a key in terms of defending the 3-point line: The Spurs blitzed the Clippers from the 3-point line, making 13-of-25 and 11 of their first 16. Their long-range shooting accounted for 36% of their offense and came primarily from burning the Clippers in transition and knocking down open looks when spacing the floor on the pick and roll.

Defending the 3-point line has been a problem for L.A. In the regular season they allowed 460 makes (fifth worst in the league). I think the Spurs have to worry about the Clippers' speed and their front court: In the Clippers' 29-point first quarter, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 13 points, including six in transition. It was evident that if the Clippers can force live-ball turnovers and get their athletic big men running the floor, San Antonio has little recourse.


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However, after the first 12 minutes, Jordan played just 11 minutes more and Griffin appeared slowed as his sprained left knee stiffened.

In the post Tim Duncan's tough. You know he's going to hit that bank shot. You can put a wall there. He'll still get it off. He's expanded his range and is very strong with the elbow jumper: From all indications the leaner, well-rested Duncan is nearly as devastating as he's always been. He made creative plays on the baseline with his back to the basket and was close to automatic when free from 15 feet. Tony Parker's low-scoring night was mitigated by his ability to find Duncan in comfortable spots at the elbow or at the angle. Parker finished with 11 assists, five leading to baskets from Duncan.

San Antonio is well-rested and sometimes that can cause a problem. We'll see how in tune they are: Playing slightly more than 48 hours after concluding their series with Memphis, the Clippers appeared to be a little more "in tune" than San Antonio, but it did not last long. The Spurs technical efficiency and ability to squeeze the most out of even the worst of possessions emerged late in the second quarter and after an 8-0 run shortly after halftime, they had a firm grasp on the game.

NOTES

The Clippers are 1-18 in their last 19 games in San Antonio. They are 4-28 in their last 32 games overall...Led by Bledsoe, the Clippers bench had 46 points in Game 1 the highest scoring output from the reserve unit in 2011-12...Despite a 2-4 regular season record against the Spurs, Griffin has dominated Duncan individually. The second-year Clippers forward has averaged 9.7 points, 0.5 assists, and 3.4 rebounds more than his Hall of Fame caliber counterpart...The Clippers are 3-3 all-time in Game 2s.

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