SAN ANTONIO – So they meet again. A week after wrapping up their own spot in the conference semifinals, the Spurs finally know who their opponent will be.
Oh yes, they’re quite familiar with Chris Paul in the playoffs.
“He’s a future Hall of Famer,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
“He’s one of those guys, you know he’s not going to give up,” said Manu Ginobili.
Back in 2008, Paul was a singular force who virtually willed the Hornets to extend a conference semifinal series against the Spurs to seven games. Now he has lit a fire under the traditionally-moribund Clippers, lifting them to only their second playoff series win since moving to the West Coast more than three decades ago. Paul led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds in the decisive Game 7 win over Memphis that sends L.A. immediately into the next round against the No. 1 seeded team in the West that is on a 14-game winning streak.
“I think, for us, we have to make sure we really respect them,” Tony Parker told the San Antonio Express-News. “Even if they’re hurting a little bit, they’re going to play hard and they’re going to play very physical and we’re going to have to match their energy in everything they do. It’s going to be a tough series.”
It should be tough than the Spurs’ 4-0 sweep of Utah in the first round because the Clippers are not one-dimensional. In addition to getting the ball inside to All-Star forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers have the outside shooting that the Jazz lacked. Mo Williams hit 7-for-9 from behind the 3-point line in a 120-108 win in San Antonio in March as the Clippers became one of just five visiting teams to win at the AT&T Center this season. Nick Young made 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) from long range in the first round against the Grizzlies and Randy Foye is also capable of bombing away.
“They’re very different (from Utah),” Parker said. “They’re more transition, fast breaks, lob. Utah, everything was in the paint. They didn’t have a lot of shooters. The Clippers have some good shooters, so it’s different.”