The Los Angeles Clippers were unceremoniously blown out by the San Antonio Spurs in the first game of their second round series in the NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night. Fortunately for the Clippers, though, the game didn't really get out of a hand until the second half ... and, according to the experts, that's something to build on heading into the rest of the seven-game series.
It might sound weird that a 108-92 loss would give the losing team hope, but that's the case according to SB Nation's Clippers blog. Steve Perrin over at Clips Nation noted that the Spurs had an advantage from the outset in the rest department, pointing out that the Spurs had an eight-day rest heading into Game 1, whereas Los Angeles was coming off an excellent seven-game series against the Memphis Grizzlies that saw them play six of the last 11 nights -- tired legs may have been a factor.
That obviously wasn't the only reason Los Angeles lost, however, as Perrin notes that defense and rebounding are two key spots that the Clippers are going to need to improve (can it be argued those are the two spots that tired legs hurt most? In the opinion of yours truly, probably).
They also aren't going to beat good teams if they allow the opponent to make 13 three-pointers on 25 shots. Actually, that 52 percent success rate represents a major cooling off for the Spurs, who were 7-11 (64 percent) at halftime and 11-16 (69 percent) midway through the third quarter. The Spurs led the NBA in three-point percentage, but 13 is still a pretty crazy number, and it ties a Spurs playoff record. The Clippers must do a better job rotating to shooters, but it would also help if the Spurs would miss a few shots.
The Clippers must also do a much better job on the boards. The Spurs outrebounded them 47-34, and statistically speaking the Spurs are no better a rebounding team than the Clippers. Hopefully that's just tired legs and will get better as the series wears on. There's no excuse to get beaten that badly on the boards, and the Clippers have no chance if it happens, given how good San Antonio is at all other aspects of the game.
So there's a the two big items on the to do list: defend the three point line and rebound.
It may seem overly optimistic to look on the bright side after a 16-point loss to open the series, but the Clippers have already proven to be pretty resilient in this year's playoffs. If athletic L.A. is able to get the aging Spurs worn down to their level, it would seem to make sense that this series will -- at the very least -- be a bit more competitive than Game 1 showed.
For more on the Spurs, be sure to visit Pounding the Rock. The best Clippers coverage on the web can be found at Clips Nation. And, if you're looking for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's NBA page.