In the wake of All-Star weekend and the friendly competition that took place among the best in the NBA, the time has come for the players to switch their focus to a more serious goal. As the San Antonio Spurs are gearing up to face the Los Angeles Clippers, they must keep in mind that this will not be just another game.
San Antonio has endured a rough first half of the regular season due to unexpected injuries to a plethora of players, which has led them to a record of 1-11 against the top teams in the league. The one win came against the Clippers in a fashionable 116-92 blowout at the AT&T center. But most question the validity of the win due to Clippers guard Chris Paul missing the game for injury reasons.
When the two teams meet for the third time this season on Tuesday night, San Antonio will have to treat the matchup as a must-win game and make a statement to the top teams in the process. They cannot only win the game, but the need to put on a dominating performance to gain momentum for the last nine weeks of the regular season.
The game will be on the road for the Spurs, which is the way they seem to prefer it as their 21-6 road record would imply. But the last trip to the Staples Center resulted in a 115-92 loss. San Antonio will have to rely on Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to steady the offense. Duncan is averaging a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Clippers this season. Parker is only averaging 12.5 points in their two meetings and will need to increase his production to make up for the injured Kawhi Leonard.
Besides the offensive needs, the Spurs’ defense must contain the high-flying act of “Lob City” and slow down their fast-paced offense. The journey to the NBA’s mountaintop will begin and end with defense.