Something’s got to give when the Los Angeles Clippers visit the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night. Then again, it seems it always does when these two Western Conference powers collide.
With Clippers tickets going for an average of $200 on Barry’s Tickets and a get-in price of $52, both teams come to battle fully knowing how high the stakes are.
For Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clips, they want to maintain their six-game winning streak (L.A. visits New Orleans Friday night), not to mention their heartfelt desire to preserve the best stretch of basketball they’ve arguably played all season.
Over the life of their six game streak, the Clippers have topped 100 points in five of their victories and three of them have come by at least double digits. As you might expect, fanning the flames have been All-Stars Griffin (21 points, seven rebounds, five assists over that time) and Paul (14 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and two steals).
“We hung in there, got key stops; the stops were the difference in the game for us,” L.A. Coach Doc Rivers told reporters after his team knocked off the Utah Jazz 94-89 Thursday night.
After much early season frustration, the veteran coach finally seems be growing more at ease with his once struggling squad.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can almost certainly relate. Since San Antonio welcomed veteran forward Kawhi Leonard back into the fold, the Spurs have almost instantly got their groove back.
San Antonio is 7-1 over its last eight games and has won three straight. Over his last seven games since returning from an eye injury, the 23-year-old Leonard has averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. The versatile swingman has also posted three double-doubles.
And then there’s Tim Duncan, who simply, yet miraculously just continues to be his reliable self. The 38-year-old Duncan was named to his 15th All-Star Game this week, joining Kareem Abdul Jabbar (19 selections), Kobe Bryant (17), Shaquille O’Neal (15) and Kevin Garnett (15) as the only players in NBA history with at least 15 appearances.
This season, Duncan is averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in just over 30 minutes per night. He is one of just two players (DeMarcus Cousins) averaging at least 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
In early November, the Spurs knocked off the host Clips 89-85 behind Leonard’s 26 points and The Spurs knocked off doubled down when the two faced off in San Antonio three days before Christmas, earning a hard fought 125-118 win behind Tony Parker’s game-high 26 points.