Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are hurting. You can see it on the court, and the San Antonio Spurs are taking advantage of their physical limitations in this series. They are forcing Paul to move laterally and not giving him or Griffin a chance to get the ball into the lane.
For the Clippers to win Game 3, it is going to take a superb effort from the rotation that is affectionately known in their locker room as… the Goon Squad. The squad consists of: Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Nick Young, Eric Bledsoe, and Mo Williams. And the name fits. Evans in particular was huge in the Clippers getting past the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 1. He was in many of the Grizzlies’ heads, O.J. Mayo in particular, with his hard screens, scrappy rebounding, and borderline fouls throughout. The Clippers won Game 7 of Round 1 with their scrappy play, and it did not go unnoticed by the starters.
“Our bench is the MVP of this series,” starting shooting guard Randy Foye said. “Even when we [starters] came out played well, they still came out and continued to change the tempo with Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams making shots, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans playing defense and rebounding. Our bench won this series for us.”
The Clippers bench will need a similar effort in Game 3 of this series if the Clippers want to avoid a sweep and make this a truly competitive series.
The Clippers other last chance in this series is running the Spurs into the ground in Game 3. If they are able to force the Spurs to play their starters for large quantities of time in Game 3, then they might have a chance at tying the series in Game 4. The reason for this is because Game 4 is a rare playoff back-to-back and one of the few competitive advantages the Clippers will have over their wise veteran opponents as this series finishes.
If the Clippers can run the Spurs to the ground in Game 3, then I could see the Spurs veterans being a bit winded with no recovery time for Game 4. The Clippers bench and the back-to-back playoff games are the last hope for this team, that has been a lot of fun to watch and the future looks bright for them. Let’s hope the future doesn’t arrive on Sunday.