There’s no better way for the NBA’s most entertaining first-round series to be decided than a Game 7. The unpredictable, back-and-forth series between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers finally ends Saturday night in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET.
Tonight will be as unpredictable as each of the six other games in the series. Both teams are incredibly even, and every game (besides Game 3) has been decided by just a few possessions. Through six games, San Antonio only holds a slight edge, outscoring the Clippers 615-605, thanks to a dominant Game 3 performance.
So what are reasonable expectations for this epic Game 7? Gregg Popovich should have his team ready after being “embarrassed” by their performance in a close out Game 6 at home. Both teams have won two games on the road in this series, so it’s hard to say there’s any home-court advantage for the Clippers, although it certainly doesn’t hurt to be in their home building.
The series has been an incredible chess match thus far. Between Hack-a-Jordan, the Clippers’ lack of depth and Spurs injuries, both teams have had their fair share of question marks during the series. None of it matters tonight, though, when the teams square off for the final time for the right to play the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Clippers, as if they lacked depth already, could be without Glen “Big Baby” Davis because of an ankle injury suffered in Game 6. Davis is listed as questionable, which could mean more of 36-year old Hedo Turkoglu or Spencer Hawes finally playing more minutes as the back-up power forward. Yikes.
The Spurs have issues themselves. Tony Parker still doesn’t look 100% healthy. Tiago Splitter has been working his way back from injury, too. The Clippers’ defense has been overwhelming for many of the Spurs besides Tim Duncan, who’s shooting a ridiculous 56.8 percent from the field this series. Manu Ginobili is shooting only 34.2 percent from the field, Splitter 33.3 percent, Parker 32.9 percent and Danny Green 30.6 percent. This is certainly un-Spurs-like and doesn’t bode well for their chances in Game 7 if it continues.
The Clippers’ best chance to beat the Spurs will be from their starting five dominating from the start. The Spurs have depth, and that bench is tough to overcome – especially if Davis doesn’t play for the Clips. Blake Griffin has been unguardable and a beast on both ends in this series, averaging 24.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, seven(!) assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks so far. How will he come through in arguably the biggest game of his career?
Watching these two teams adjust on the fly throughout this series has been a joy to watch. This series has felt more like a Western Conference Finals than anything else, and I feel like the Spurs’ championship experience and law of averages will bring them out on top. Defensively, the Spurs, specifically Boris Diaw, Splitter and Duncan, need to do a better job on Griffin. One or two of the struggling Spurs (Ginobili, Splitter, Parker or Green) will have a big game, and I believe the Spurs will close out the Clips, 103-98.