Here's a flashback from March 7, 2006, the last time the Clippers actually beat the Spurs. The two teams will play for the third time this season and TNLP turns to our favorite San Antonio guys, Project Spurs for a little preview of they can expect from the game. They also answer a few general questions about the Spurs. Here we go:
TNLP: After a long wait, Tiago Splitter has looked impressive thus far. How would you assess his play?
Project Spurs: Not playing the entire preseason, and finally getting on the court after a week into the new season, and playing a lot in the summer, I saw this slow start coming from Splitter. But slowly and surely he is coming into form and with DeJuan Blair seemingly not fitting in as the starting center, Splitter could be in the starting five soon. He is adjusting to the NBA style of play and he is doing things on the defensive end which do not show up in the stat sheet. Namely disrupting the opposing team's offensive flow and making the smart play.
TNLP: Two things stand out this season - the Spurs are 1st overall in PPG and 3rd in 3PT%. When their offense is that potent, it only makes sense they're doing so well. How are they doing all this?
PS: They are getting contributions from everyone. Blair, rookie Gary Neal, Richard Jefferson FINALLY getting the Spurs' system, Matt Bonner knocking down shots, it's a TEAM effort. Their veteran poise (the comeback win vs. the Hornets) and a rested Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili is paying dividends so far this season.
TNLP: What's the status on James Anderson? He was playing well prior to his foot injury.
PS: He is still out and recovering from the hand injury. He was playing well and as suspected he was contributing on the offensive end. However, one knock on him was his defense. Surprisingly he was getting it done on the defensive end. Granted he is no Bruce Bowen but was serviceable.
TNLP: People believe that the Spurs' impressive start is a result of their "easy" schedule. Does that assertion have any merit?
PS: Easy? Well let's review. They beat the Hornets in New Orleans, the Jazz in Utah, the Thunder in Oklahoma City, the Bulls and the Magic. Those teams are not push overs. Also, the comeback wins against the Timberwolves and Hornets speaks volumes on the team.
TNLP: Please give any comments about the return of Ime Udoka.
PS: As expected the Spurs went after a veteran, defender. Shocking. Udoka will fit in seeing how he has a few seasons under his belt in the Spurs' system. He will get spot minutes and provide some toughness to the squad. The Spurs were on a waiving spree (Garrett Temple, Alonzo Gee and Danny Green) and Udoka is a proven defender unlike the players waived. Now the question is -- will he get minutes?
TNLP: Blake Griffin was held to 5/18 shooting last time around. Now that Blake has been on a roll, what can the Spurs do to try to slow him down?
PS: Seeing how he is a rookie, the Spurs will send the quick double-teams at him to get the ball out of his hands. Basically see if he can find the open player. If that doesn't work, the Spurs could use the "let him do his damage and stop everyone else" approach.
TNLP: Gary Neal has already taken over the "Clipper Killer" title on the Spurs. With the Clippers' inability to stop 3-point attacks, do you think we can expect a repeat performance from him?
PS: It's not just Neal Clippers have to watch for. Bonner, RJ, George Hill, and Manu Ginobili all can hit the three.
TNLP: Are there any matchups that the Spurs may want to exploit against the Clippers? Richard Jefferson had a big 22 points last meeting. How about Matt Bonner and his 3-point accuracy?
PS: On paper the Clippers are a solid team/starting five. I believe Eric Gordon annihilated James Anderson with that vicious dunk. If anything the Spurs need to exploit the Clippers bench and exploit their inexperience should the game be close in the 4th quarter.
Also, can Craig Smith please not set out to plaster a Spurs player on the court? Seriously.
Bonner is being Bonner. With him he seems to always have great regular season performances but come playoffs, he is ghost. --
We didn't bother asking for a prediction. The Spurs currently hold the longest winning streak in the NBA against a single team. 17 consecutive wins against the Clippers. It could have been broken but Roger Mason and Smush Parker happened along the way. The Spurs will hope for a fairly easy win without having to use Duncan for extended minutes and the Clippers will just hope to break that streak. In any case, it'll be exciting as long as Blake is on the floor.
Be sure to also check out the TNLP LAC vs. Spurs Preview over at Project Spurs.
A very special thanks to Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs for participating:
Follow him on Twitter: @sa2ny2004