SAN ANTONIO (Sporting Alert) — The San Antonio Spurs head into tonight’s Western Conference quarterfinals looking to close-out their series against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6.
Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs
Thurs, April 30 – 8:30 PM CT
Live on TNT Overtime and TNT Network
The Spurs took a step closer to booking a place in the conference semi-finals by beating the Clippers 111-107 at STAPLES Center on Tuesday night, with Tim Duncan, who played 39-minutes in the contest, leading the way with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds.
San Antonio’s bench was also vital in the win in Game 5 after outscoring the Los Angeles’ reserves 48-17, with Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, and Boris Diaw all reaching double figures in the victory.
After throwing away another opportunity to put the defending champions under pressure playing at home, the Clippers once again find themselves having to do things the hard way on the road.
Blake Griffin scored a series high 30 points in the defeat in Game 5 for the Los Angeles Clippers, but also committed five turnovers to take his tally for the series to 15, something head coach Doc Rivers isn’t too happy about.
The Clippers also went 1-of-14 from three-point range, with Jamal Crawford the main culprit after going 0-of-6 from long distance, while Matt Barnes, who was 2-of-5 overall from the field, was 1-of-4 from behind the arc.
Blake, who is averaging 23.8 points, 13.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game so far in the series, knows the visitors must play better if they want to force a Game 7.
“It’s tough to lose, but the series isn’t over,” Griffin told reporters after Game 5. “We’ve got to be ready to come and play.
“It’s going to be a hostile environment in San Antonio in a closeout game, elimination game, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Defeat for Rivers’ side in San Antonio on Thursday night with see his team’s ugly run in Game 5 and 6 continue.
Following the defeat on Tuesday night, the Clippers fell to 1-8 in Games 5 and 6 since they made a return to the playoffs in 2012.
Rivers, who was desperate for his team to take the lead on the road, feels the officials cost his club the win in Game 5.
“I thought we got some really tough calls tonight, some brutal calls,” the veteran coach said. “You think about the playoffs, and they’re single-possession games.”
He continued: “I don’t know, it’s just — listen, the refs are trying hard, too, but God darn.”
San Antonio starts the game as a 5.5 point home favorite, according to Pinnacle Sports and many pundits are also backing them to send the Clippers home and punish Rivers’ men for blowing two of the three home games in the series.
Also playing on Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls will try again to close out their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Milwaukee Bucks, who have cut their 3-0 deficit to 3-2 in the seven game series.
The Bulls were expected to run all over the Bucks in the series, but now they are slightly thinking about the possibilities of playing in a Game 7.
“I don’t know if we were comfortable or confident or overlooking them,” Pau Gasol said after Game 5 defeat.
“I just think we didn’t play with enough sense of urgency and desire, which you have to do when you’re ready to close out a team when you have them in that position.
“We’re going to have to play the next game like it’s the last game, not think that if we lose this one, we still have a chance, that we can play at home in Game 7.
“That would be a terrible mistake.”
In Game 5, Michael Carter-Williams collected 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and Khris Middleton added 21 points and four steals in helping the Bucks avoided elimination for the second time with a 94-88 victory over the Bulls on Monday night at United Center.
Milwaukee, which held Chicago to 4-of-22 from three-point range, also kept the hosts to 34.4 percent from the field.
“I think they just played harder than we did on both ends of the floor,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals in Game 5. “End of story.”