History Not Kind For Spurs In Game 7 At Clippers
So here’s the good news for San Antonio Spurs fans and backers at sportsbooks heading into Saturday night’s epic Game 7 showdown at the Los Angeles Clippers in a series that no one would like to see end — it’s shame these two had to play in the first round. Coach Gregg Popovich is 12-1 all-time when his team has taken a 3-2 lead in a playoff series. However, the Spurs are just 1-3 in their history in a road Game 7. The last one? When they blew a 3-2 series lead in the 2013 NBA Finals and lost Games 6 and 7 in Miami. The Clippers are 2-point favorites at Bovada for Saturday’s game. The Houston Rockets await the winner early next week in the Western Conference semifinals.
L.A. Comes Up Big In Game 6
The Clippers forced this winner-take-all affair — which should end about an hour before the start of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight in Las Vegas — with a 102-96 win on Thursday, L.A.’s second in this series in San Antonio. Blake Griffin had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Chris Paul had 19 points and 15 assists. Marco Belinelli hit two 3-pointers in the final 80 seconds, including one with 14 seconds remaining, to cut the Clippers’ lead to 98-96. But Jamal Crawford and Griffin each hit two free throws to preserve the win.
It was only the fifth time in 19 tries under Gregg Popovich that the Spurs could not eliminate an opponent while playing at home. They had won seven consecutive times in this situation, dating back to 2006.
Belinelli led San Antonio with 23 points, including going 7-for-11 from 3-point range. Boris Diaw had 17 points, Tim Duncan added 12 points and 13 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 12 points. But San Antonio’s other three starters struggled. The Spurs’ bench outscored the Clippers’ 48-15, but Los Angeles’ starting five had an 87-48 advantage.
End Of Era?
The Spurs, who have won twice on the road this series, will have to take a third game in L.A. if they hope to extend their championship reign past Saturday. If San Antonio loses, it’s like the end of an era. Tony Parker says he wants to play for another four or five years. But Duncan and especially Manu Ginobili, at 39 and nearly 38, respectively, are both on borrowed time as their contracts are set to expire this summer. Both seem likely to retire whenever this season ends. Duncan is still playing at a high level, with averages of 16.3 points and 11.2 rebounds while shooting 56.8 percent against one of the league’s most physical and athletic frontcourts. Ginobili looks worn out, shooting 34.2 percent and committing turnovers at an alarming rate.
“We approach it like anything else,” Duncan said. “We understand the pressure that’s there and we understand the magnitude of the game. We understand that we can play better than what we did [Thursday night]. Hopefully, we will clean a whole lot of that up and play a much better game in this short turnaround. … I know we are capable of it. We will be ready for it.”
The Spurs’ core has plenty of experience, winning a Game 7 in last season’s first round against the Dallas Mavericks. That was at home. The Clippers also won a Game 7 in the first round of last season’s playoffs, beating the Golden State Warriors in L.A.
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