The Spurs looked completely lost in the first game of their playoff series with the Clippers, but do not count San Antonio out yet.
The San Antonio Spurs were outclassed in Game 1 of their first round series with the Los Angeles Clippers, getting beatdown by 15 points. There is a reason why Greg Popovich has led the franchise to five NBA championships since 1999, though, and to write them off after just one game would be nothing short of foolish.
Did his team get completely demolished on Sunday night in Los Angeles? Without a doubt. At the same time though, they are far from the first team to come out flat in a playoff game on the road, and they will be far from the last.
It is not like the Spurs are any strangers to comebacks, either. After all, they spent a good portion of the season on the fringe of the playoff race.
Counting out the Spurs after one bad game would be ignorant, and here are four reasons why the defending champs can make a comeback and win the series.
1. Experience, experience, experience
Many armchair experts look at the Spurs’ aging veterans, and immediately write them off against the extremely athletic, and talented, Los Angeles Clippers. After all, the Clippers do have three of the premier players at their positions in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
However, while the Spurs may not have the speed or the high-powered highlight dunks that the Clippers are known for, but they have them completely outmanned in one area; NBA playoff success.
In their entire careers, Paul, Griffin and Jordan have won a total of two playoff games beyond the first round of the playoffs, coming two postseasons ago. The Spurs, on the other hand, have a roster filled with legitimate playoff success from top to bottom, and
Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have all been around for the majority of the Spurs’ dynasty, but even newcomer Kawhi Leonard has an NBA Finals MVP under his belt, which he earned from his breakout performance during last year’s championship run.
2. They are playing their best basketball at the perfect time of the season
Sure, the Spurs may have experienced a hiccup at the end of the regular season. After surging from out of the playoffs to nearly stealing the No 2 seed, San Antonio lost the final game of the season. The loss ended an 11-game winning streak and dropped them to the No. 6 spot.
Regardless, the Spurs have looked like the team to beat over the past month, and their recent hot streak is something that cannot be ignored. San Antonio is known for resting its aging veterans throughout the regular season, something that will give the team fresh legs for the duration of the playoffs.
3. Kawhi Leonard creates a serious matchup problem
Emerging star Kawhi Leonard has been chosen as the next San Antonio Spur to carry the torch, passed down from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan before him, and the versatile forward has not disappointed.
Leonard emerged as a serious threat on both sides of the court while earning NBA Finals MVP honors last year, displaying a rare combination of size, athleticism, defensive prowess and ability to score from anywhere on the court that makes him a potential nightmare for opposing coaches.
Nothing about that has changed this year, and even though the combination of Griffin and Jordan in the paint is an imposing defensive presence to say the least, Kawhi Leonard has the skill-set to hurt the Clippers from several areas on the court.
4. Greg Popovich is the best in the business
Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA, and it is not even close.
If you need any proof of his incredible coaching mind, take a brief look at his decorated coaching tree.
That is correct, three former Popovich assistants have their team’s in the playoffs. One of them, Monty Williams, has helped lead the New Orleans Pelicans out of mediocrity (with a little help from a guy named Anthony Davis). Mike Budenholzer just won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award and has the Atlanta Hawks sitting in the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Former Popovich protege Steve Kerr, in just his first season as a head coach at any level, led the Golden State Warriors to an outstanding 67-15 record, by far the best in the NBA.
A similarity between all three of these successful teams is that they mimic Popovich’s philosophy of team-first, fundamentally-sound basketball, something that has become a staple of the Spurs under his watch. As a result, the Spurs have experienced tremendous success during his tenure and have become a team that you can never count out.
As if you need any further reasons why not to write off his San Antonio Spurs, just remember the three NBA coach of the year awards and, most importantly, the five NBA Championship rings.
NBA Playoffs, Game 2 – Clippers lead series 1-0
Tomorrow, 9:30 PM on TNT, PT, FSSW
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
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