Chris Paul says Clippers definitely more prepared for this go-round with Spurs

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul’s first season with the Clippers was 2011-12. Paul helped the Clippers to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, where they were swept by in four games by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers will play the Spurs in the first round beginning Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. Paul was queried at practice this week as to whether his team is more prepared for this go-round with San Antonio. Paul answered sharply.

“If we’re not better prepared now than we were three years ago,” Paul said, “then we probably shouldn’t even play.”

The team in ’11-’12 had Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin but not Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick or Jamal Crawford.

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Blake Griffin gives high praise to San Antonio coach Gregg ‘Pop’ Popovich

Gregg Popovich/Photo by Associated Press

 

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA titles since 1999. He commands huge respect around the league. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin on Saturday at practice gave his quick version of why Popovich’s teams are so hard to beat.

“Pop is such a great coach,” Griffin said. “You never know what kind of crazy thing he’s going to come out with. His game plan might change game to game and they do such a good job of executing . You just really have to be able to adjust on the fly and be the kind of team that doesn’t get down when things are going against you a little bit. You’ve gotta stay the course.”

The Clippers and Spurs on Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center square off in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

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Blake Griffin these days more relaxed while comtemplating the post-season

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers have now made the playoffs in four of the five seasons Blake Griffin has been with the team – they missed in his rookie campaign. He was asked before practice Saturday at the team’s facility in Playa Vista to talk about the psychological differences heading into this post-season against the previous three seasons.

“A little bit more relaxing,” Griffin said. “My first couple of years, I was truly anxious about it. I think last year, with how much everybody tried to hype everything up, it felt a little different. I think this year we’re just excited, we’re locked in and we’re pretty focused.”

The Clippers will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with Game 1 Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center.

 

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After crazy final night, Clippers will take on the defending-champion Spurs

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin and the Clippers will play the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

It figured to be a crazy final night in the NBA as far as determining playoff seedings, and it was definitely that.

While the Clippers sat home and watched the night’s games on television, there were several other games that would determine their seeding and first-round opponent. When everything was said and done, the Clippers finished third in the Western Conference and will face the defending NBA-champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round. The Clippers will have homecourt advantage, and Game 1 will be Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center

The Spurs could have finished as high as second in the West, but a loss to New Orleans (108-103) on Wednesday night pushed them to sixth. The Pelicans made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed with that victory and will play Golden State. That left Oklahoma City out.

The Clippers needed both the Spurs and Houston Rockets to lose in order to finish second. The Spurs did their part, but the Rockets walloped Utah (117-91).

Then, Memphis’ 95-83 victory over Indiana meant the Grizzlies would have the No. 5 seed, San Antonio the sixth.

In other first-round series, No. 2 Houston will play No. 7 Dallas and No. 4 Portland will take on No. 5 Memphis.

 

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Clippers finish with 14th win in last 15 games, clinch no less than No. 3 seed

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers on Tuesday finished by winning 14 of their last 15 regular-season games with a 112-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center in Phoenix. It guaranteed the Clippers (56-26) at least the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, with a chance to finish No. 2 – which is where they are now – depending on what San Antonio (55-26) and Houston (55-26) do in separate games Wednesday in their respective regular-season finales.

Blake Griffin, who scored 20 points with eight rebounds and five assists, likes where his team is sitting.

“I think with everything that went on and going through that bad stretch there before (the) All-Star (break) and having certain injuries, I think it’s a great spot to be in,” said Griffin, whose team lost four of six heading into the All-Star break in February. “But you always look back and say, ‘What if we would have won this game or that game, we could have solidified (No. 2), maybe.’ But whatever. It’s a good spot to be in, better than sixth, I guess.

“Now, we’ve just got to focus on winning a playoff series. I was thinking to myself it’s crazy that we might play Memphis in the first round of the playoffs as a 3-6, while they were No. 2 all season. It’s nuts, but it’s the West.”

 

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Check out the latest standings and potential first-round playoff matchups

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring with a 22.0 average/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers have two games left in the regular season, Monday at home against Denver and Tuesday at Phoenix.

After Sunday’s slate of games, here’s a look at where the Clippers are in the Western Conference standings.

Also, these are the current matchups for the first round if the playoffs began today.

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Blake Griffin trying to figure out what it all means in Western Conference standings

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

With their 94-86 victory Saturday over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Clippers are now 54-26 – as are the Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. They are tied for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings.

But with not one first-round playoff matchup yet set in the West with the eight teams having either two or three games left in the regular season, Blake Griffin is not sure what it all means.

“To be in the position we are in is great,” said Griffin, who scored 18 points Saturday. “I don’t even have an idea of what it all breaks down to as far as who we are going to play, who we might play, what all the scenarios are. … I was just talking about it with somebody and we just came to the conclusion that we have no idea.”

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Blake Griffin on Clippers: ‘We’re playing some of our best basketball’

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers (53-26) have won 11 of their past 12 games heading into their game Saturday night with the Memphis Grizzlies (54-25). Blake Griffin likes what he’s seeing, but is keeping things in perspective.

“We’re playing some of our best basketball,” he said. “We haven’t really played the
same caliber of teams down the stretch, but I think we’re playing good basketball. I think everybody’s locked in. It’s kind of just like a business atmosphere.”

Of the 11 victories, only four have come against teams currently in position to make the playoffs.

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CP3: Blake Griffin’s improved mid-range jump-shot paying dividends for Clippers

 

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Blake Griffin has made a concerted effort to improve his mid-range jump-shot, and he has done that as this season he is shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from 16 feet and beyond; his previous best was 38.2 percent in 2011-12.

Teammate Chris Paul suggests Griffin improving his game in that way has been highly beneficial.

“It makes us very hard to guard,” Paul said. “A lot of teams would try keep us on one side of the court, but you have to make a choice. If two (players) are going to guard me, then you are leaving Blake open.

“When Blake is shooting and passing well, it makes us that much more dangerous.”

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Doc Rivers jokes patch worn by Blake Griffin not for Griffin ‘to stop smoking’

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin went crashing into an advertising table outside the north end-line during the first quarter of Tuesday’s 105-100 victory over the Lakers. He was hustling for a loose ball, trying to save it from going out of bounds.

Though fans appreciated his effort, he was unsuccessful and the Lakers took possession. It was a scary moment that resulted in Griffin wearing a patch on his right shoulder that became bloody. Never one to pass on an opportunity to make a joke out of something, coach Doc Rivers did just that when asked about the patch.

“I’m sure it’s not to get him to stop smoking,” he said, drawing laughs from reporters.

Griffin, by the way, scored 27 points in the game. He also grabbed seven rebounds and doled out six assists.

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