Knotted at two games apiece, the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs look to break their first-round series tie in Tuesday night’s Game 5 at Staples Center. Powered by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul’s combined 54 points, the Clippers evened the series with a 114-105 victory in Game 4 following their harrowing 27-point loss in the previous game.
Thus far, neither side has managed to hold home court, with each splitting their home stands, but the Clippers return to familiar territory with more confidence and with Griffin playing at maybe the best level of his career.
Leading the team in rebounds (13.3), assists (7.3) and minutes (41.3) per game, and ranking second in scoring (22.3) behind only Paul’s 23.5 points, Griffin’s become the Clippers jack-of-all-trades and has shown no signs of slowing down.
"I think through some trials and when your back's against the wall, you do find out a little bit about who you are," Griffin said to the Los Angeles Times. "But you can also show that with how you handle success as well. We'd much rather not have to deal with those trials, but I do think it does show you a little bit about yourself when you do handle that."
While Paul and center DeAndre Jordan dealt with foul trouble throughout Game 4, Griffin responded with 20 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.
L.A. also received a much needed boost from guard Austin Rivers, who notched 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting in 17 minutes off the bench. Rivers, son of Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, revived a Clippers bench that’s severely lagged in the series, other than guard Jamal Crawford, who scored 15 points in 29 minutes of Game 4.
The Clippers also managed to take away San Antonio’s biggest offensive weapon, the three-pointer. Ranking fifth in the league with a team rate of 36.7 percent from deep during the regular season, San Antonio made a minimum of eight in the three previous games, but went 6-for-25 in Game 4, with sharpshooting specialist Danny Green held scoreless and going 0-for-6 from the field.
Missing an opportunity to win its third straight and go up 3-1 in the series, San Antonio received the usual contributions from its stars but fell off defensively in Game 4. Tim Duncan put up 22 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, Kawhi Leonard continued to dominate with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and point guard Tony Parker chipped in a series-high 18 points despite dealing with ankle injury.
But the Spurs couldn’t ratchet up the defensive pressure, allowing the Clippers to shoot 53.6 percent from the field and forced only nine turnovers.
“Distractions. Too many mistakes,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said to the San Antonio News-Express. “All the mistakes we made, they made us pay. We (won in L.A.) once. We have to try to do it again. It’s hard because we were in a great situation. But it happens. They are a good team. It’s not like it was supposed to be easy. We are going to have to play much better and not make as many mistakes to get that home court advantage back.”
Ginobili’s been especially absent in the series, shooting 37.5 percent from the field and averaging only 7.8 points a game, though he’s still making plays with 4.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Start Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Live Online Stream: A live stream is available at TNT Overtime here
Betting Odds: Clippers -2
Over/Under: 205 points
Prediction: Clippers over Spurs, 98-94