I do not consider the Clippers a contender, and have not for a few years. Because of that I am always surprised that they give the Spurs so much trouble. My surprise is probably my own fault for underrating them. That said, I think it is more a matter of matching up than it is pure talent. For whatever reason, the Clips are blown out by the Warriors — even this KD version. In this way to early moment, the only way LAC is getting to the Finals is if the Spurs do the dirty work of eliminating Golden State for them first.

It is really way early, but if we were overly reasonable we wouldn’t be watching regular season basketball at all.

The Game

The Spurs started out unsustainably hot. Gasol and Aldridge hit threes, for goodness sake. Sure, they can hit midrange jumpers with consistency, and have range to 23 feet but if we are relying on them to rain threes on squads we are done. It was good to see the squad looking crisp in that 10-0 run to start. Then Doc Rivers called timeout and LA went on a run of their own.

The offense didn’t look as crisp after that, partly helped by the refs’ tendency to not give Kawhi the contact fouls he has been feasting on, but the real concern for everyone was the transition defense. Chris Paul put on a show in that first quarter in which the Clips scored 39. He did that classic point guard thing where he led the break and found a trailing Blake Griffin for dunks. Multiple times.

Concerning Things And Matchups

The Clips match up well because Blake and Jordan are about equal to the Spurs’ big men. So the Spurs then have no comparative advantage inside. Jordan’s size and strength make it tough for Aldridge and Gasol to bully their way to buckets, and Gasol. On the other end, Blake can work over anyone we put on him on the perimeter especially when his jumper is on. Oh yeah and I mentioned him running free for fast break buckets. All of this is helped by Chris Paul, who is savvy enough to make up for the low basketball IQ that some of the Clippers players have. Hell, he makes Deandre Jordan a threat offensively.

All that said, the Spurs are not as bad as they played. While both teams played the night before, San Antonio was the only squad missing two starters. The defensive rotations are still slightly delayed because of confusion, and the substitution patterns are a work in progress.

When Danny Green and Tony get back some of those things will work themselves out. Tony Parker is not an All-Star threat anymore, but he still knows the defensive rotations inside and out. Meanwhile everyone else is getting better and these kinds of games are invaluable in producing the deep benches that the Spurs are famous for.

Unscientific List of Guys Who Caught My Eye Tonight

  • Lapprovíttola is fun to watch. He has no fear, and is only going to be a bigger part of the Spurs going forward.

  • Jonathan Simmons really gets lost defensively sometimes. All those highlights you see of him do not show the reasons he was in the dog house last year. That kind of stuff. I still like him but I still noticed it

  • Every time Bertāns shoots it I know it will go in. I am surprised when it does not. I like Dāvis Bertāns.

  • I know this is a slight contradiction but LMA was 3/3 from 3. This is a return to his Portland days when he was hitting them regularly.