The Spurs and the Clippers will end what has become a fun series to watch.
The New York Times is reporting that both the Spurs and Clippers are preparing for the last game in the first-round series. It is a winner-take-all game, and the winner will deserve it.
In the Spurs, you have the established, long-in-the-tooth defending champion with a well-entrenched coach in Gregg Popovich. In the Clippers, you have the young guns with a coach, Doc Rivers, that previously coached a winner in Boston. The Spurs seeks to remain in glory. The Clippers seeks validation.
The Clippers will be without Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who injured his ankle in Game 6. The Clippers went into the Spurs’ AT&T Center, down three games to two, and came out with a 102-96 victory to send the series back to Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Before this game, the Spurs’ Popovich had lost only one Game 6 trying to close the series at home.
“This team is mentally tough, but we’ve got to come through it again,” Rivers said. “This series in some ways should go seven. It’s just right. That’s what should happen in this series.”
The Spurs are setting records for longevity, a testament to their talents. Tony Parker just played in his 200th playoff game. Tim Duncan logged his 9,000th playoff minute. Popovich won his 150th playoff game, which makes him tied with Phil Jackson and Pat Riley.
According to USA Today, The Spurs are used to tense series play. The Spurs survived a seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks just last year on their way to their fifth NBA title.
The Spurs have been a model of quality basketball, from coach to players. Even their owner, tractor magnate Peter Holt, stays firmly on the sidelines, overseeing his investment, but letting his basketball people run the Spurs. Even he knows that the Spurs’ time is coming to an end. But, like the rest of us, no one is sure when the Spurs’ end will be.
“We’re the old guys,” the 66-year-old Holt said. “We’ve been old for what, 10 years? We laugh about that. Now we’re the old, old guys. You can’t get much older.”
Tell that to 39-year-old Duncan or 37-year-old Manu Ginobli of the Spurs. Both players will be pondering retirement after the season. The Spurs do have an young anchor in Kawhi Leonard, a 23-year-old who is coming into his own, and who will most likely be given a maximum contract to stay with the Spurs. The Spurs do have many other questions with free agency, with most of the Spurs eligible to jump, and trying to find a big man to replace Duncan.
They’ve been doing this for 20 successful years, there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to do so.
[Image courtesy of Schlitter Blog]