SAN ANTONIO – It’s usually a difficult choice when you’re playing the Spurs — pick your poison.
So the Clippers swallowed the arsenic and the cyanide. They let the Spurs beat them up on the inside with 42 points in the paint and a 47-34 domination of the rebounding and they also surrendered 13 buckets from behind the 3-point line to seven different Spurs.
At times the Clippers looked like confused rats inside a maze, not knowing which way to run to try to cover up a San Antonio shooter.
“If they don’t pass the ball to an open man, they’re coming out. It’s the bottom line,” said L.A. forward Kenyon Martin. “That’s the way (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is coaching. I’ve had lots of battles with him. This is my fourth time playing him in the playoffs and it’s always been that way. The open man always hits the shot; that’s what they do well. They do an excellent job of spreading the floor, making plays and guys do an excellent job of being unselfish.”
While the Clippers did a good job of making scoring chances tough for Tony Parker (1-for-9), he was still able to penetrate often and effectively enough to make the defense collapse around him and create open shots for teammates. That’s why he finished with 11 assists.
“Just controlling penetration,” said center DeAndre Jordan. “As long as we can control Tony and Manu (Ginobili) and make those guys take tough shots and not try to collapse on them, just contain them and keep them outside as much as possible, that will take away some of their easy buckets in the paint and also a lot of their easy kick-outs.”
Easier said than done. The Spurs were the best 3-point shooting team in the league all season. And it would help if the Clippers’ aggressive, bruising big men were good enough 1-on-1 defenders to not need collapsing help in the paint.
Pick your poison.
But if they let this turn into a shooting contest, the Clippers won’t have a shot.