Why The Spurs Could Face A First-Round Exit

The Spurs lost their game against the Pelicans last night which pushed them back to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Just days ago, the Spurs were the second seed and were predicted to face the Dallas Mavericks in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs. Now, however, the Spurs are set to face the Los Angeles Clippers who are the third seed. This means that the Clippers will hold home court advantage for the series.

The defending champion Spurs are the favorites by many to return to the NBA Finals even though they are the sixth seed. They won their last 11 of 12 regular season games, however the Clippers are also on a hot-streak of their own winning the last 14 out of 15 games. In the Western Conference, there is no "easy" first-round opponent, and the Spurs realize that. Even though they are the favorites, the Clippers have a good chance of upsetting the Spurs.

One reason being simply because they have home court advantage. San Antonio has a 22-19 record on the road while the Clippers are 30-11. Also, center Tiago Splitter is battling back from a right calf injury and may not be 100 percent for this series. Even though he is not an offensive threat, he is a huge piece to the puzzle as he was last year in their championship season. This season, Splitter is averaging 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. 

One position that the Spurs have a mismatch in is small forward. The Clippers have no one that can match up with last year's Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. Against the Clippers this season, Leonard has averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. His length on both the offensive and defensive end will cause problems, as they have for every team they have played in the playoff in past years.

This series will be decided by the point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Tony Parker. Parker has given Paul nightmares especially in the playoffs in the past. In match ups against each other, Parker is averaging 16.3 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.7 rebounds while Paul averaged 19.8 points, 10.0 assists, and 5.5 rebounds a game. Regardless of the numbers, if Paul wants to be known as one of the best players ever, he needs to get over this obstacle of the Spurs and Parker. The Clippers have a better chance than most are giving them and Chris Paul knows that. Look for him to have a strong series as he and the Clippers look to eliminate the reigning champs.