The San Antonio Spurs won 14 of 15 games down the stretch but lost their regular-season finale at New Orleans to tumble all the way down to the 6-seed in the Western Conference. Then they opened the playoffs by losing Game 1 to the Los Angeles Clippers, 107-92, on Sunday.
And now people are saying the Spurs are in trouble.
Scott Ferrall can’t believe it. The Spurs are the defending NBA champions and have won the West each of the last two years, and because they lose one game of one series, people are already saying San Antonio’s dynasty is over?
No way. The Spurs may very well wind up losing this series, but they’re not going to go out quietly. They’re not going to panic.
“I would be really surprised by that,” Spurs television host Andrew Monaco said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The Spurs are a team that doesn’t panic and I think in that other room, I think Doc Rivers knows exactly what the Spurs are going to do. He said it simply today. He said, ‘Look, they played bad. They didn’t make shots, but they had those shots – and we’re kidding ourselves if we think that we can leave them open like we did in that first game and they’re going to miss. If we depend on that, we’re in trouble.’
“The Spurs do a great job from Gregg Popovich and his coaches to making those adjustments that they need,” Monaco continued. “They’re not going to panic. They’re going to trust the system and get back if they can to what there doing. Look, the Clips played a great game in Game 1. Can they duplicate it? Yeah, they probably can, but like Doc said, he’d be surprised if the Spurs played that poorly in Game 2.”
The Spurs trailed 30-18 after the first quarter and 79-64 entering the fourth. They shot just 34-of-93 (36.6 percent) from the floor, while Los Angeles shot 40-of-78 (51.3 percent). Both teams hit 10 three-pointers, but the Spurs needed 33 attempts to do so; the Clippers needed just 18.
All in all, it was a great night for Chris Paul and friends.
“They’ve got to handle the basketball,” Monaco said of the Spurs. “If you allow the Clippers to get out in transition – it’s probably the poorest thing the Spurs do is their transition defense. So the Spurs have to handle the basketball. They can’t turn it over. it just means so much to L.A.‘s offense when you do that.”
Especially with Paul orchestrating the attack. The eight-time All-Star finished with a game-high 32 points and six assists.
“Chris Paul had a great game,” Monaco said. “He was unstoppable. He showed all his skill, from getting that team into (the) pick-and-roll to his pull-up jumper – he was outstanding. He got everybody else involved.”
The Spurs, meanwhile, had five players score double figures, but only one had more than 11 points (Kawhi Leonard, 18).
“The Spurs, they’re going to have to make the layups that they missed,” Monaco said. “They had some open shots. They need threes form the Danny Greens on the team, from Boris Diaw.”
Green and Diaw combined to shoot 4-of-23 (17.4 percent) from the floor, including 1-of-12 from three (8.3 percent).
“They’re going to have to (make shots) and implement that offense a little bit more,” Monaco said. “They’ve got to get the Clips below 50 percent, but at 36 percent, there’s no chance they’re going to have a way to win. I think they’ll shoot better in Game 2.”
Game 2 is Wednesday in Los Angeles at 9:30 p.m. ET.