We all know that Gregg Popovich has enjoyed tremendous playoff success in the past 19 years. We've seem him defy the odds countless times to bring a total of five NBA titles to San Antonio. But behind the precise and machine-like teams that he's produced, do we know the secret of Popovich's playoff suceess? Maybe not.
Starting from the Spurs' first title season in 1999, Popovich's Spurs have accumulated a record of 23-8 (.742) in Game 5s as compared to a 124-79 (.611) mark in all other playoff games. That impressive record includes a 15-1 mark during their five championship seasons and six straight Game 5 wins in the last two seasons. In contrast, Popovich's Spurs have a record of 19-26 in Game 4s, their worst in any game of a playoff series.
So if you were worried about the Spurs giving back homecourt advantage to the Clippers, think again.
The trademark of Popovich's teams is not in being unbeatable or even close to that. The Spurs are mere mortals and they've been that all throughout their 19 seasons under Pop. But the thing is, they know when to win and they deliver in the games that matter most, especially in Game 5s.
This ability to deliver the knockout punch and pull the plug from their opponents' life support is what makes the Spurs so good and successful over the years.
Having said that, the Spurs play yet another game 5 on Tuesday and with their series against the L.A. Clippers tied at two games apiece, this is likely the most important game of the series.
Will history repeat itself for the Spurs? Or will the Clippers win and chart their own destiny?
We'll answer that question with this post and preview that game plus the Rockets-Mavs Game 5 which are shceduled for Tuesday.We'll also be giving you the SportHold Super Prediction score to help you make your picks for our next challenge.
The SportHold Super Prediction score is based on the collated predictions of SportHold users. Our users enter their predictions in our challenges page and we come up with a set of picks based on those. Those picks become our voice- or the voice of the crowd. The more predictions we get, the stronger our voice is. Remember that there is strength in numbers. Here at SportHold though, we just don't come up with a voice, but our users compete with others in our leaderboard. We give out points to every prediction you make, depending on the accuracy. Users also get points when they test their Sports IQ at our mini-games and even get a chance to win cash prizes by predicting the exact scores of NBA games. To get you started, here is the Prediction Data for April 28 to help you out:
With their backs against the wall and their 2015 season on the line, the Dallas Mavericks turned to their "other" guys to keep their title hopes alive. Well they're still alive, but only for now.
Earning his first start in the postseason since 2011, J.J. Barea delivered 17 points and 13 assists for the Mavericks who desperately needed backcourt firepower after Rajon Rondo was essentially dismissed by Coach Rick Carlisle earlier in the series. Reserve forward Al Farouq Aminou had a double double off the bench with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Aside from those two, four other Mavs scored in double digits led by Monta Ellis who led all scorers with 31 markers.
Also helping Dallas win Game 4 were the Rockets themselves who misfired from the 3-point line. Houston went 7-31 from beyond the arc last Sunday which was their 8th worst three point shooting display of the season. If not for Josh Smith's 4 triples in the 4th quarter of Game 4, their 22.6% three point shooting performance would have been worse. Houston averaged an NBA All-time high of 32.7 three point attempts during the regular season and made a league best 11.38 triples per game (.348 accuracy) but if those threes don't start falling, it's "Houston we have a problem" for the Rockets.
James Harden said after Game 4 that three point shooting is what they do best and they'll continue to shoot threes in the series. Harden is correct but what the Rockets really need in Game 5 is to do better off the glass. The Mavericks outrebounded them 52-38 and gave away 16 offensive rebounds in Game 4. They need to show more effort in rebounding and have to play harder to get past the first round hump.
Houston has won only one playoff series since 1997 and have bowed out in the first round during the last two seasons. But the Rockets still have a commanding 3-1 lead over the Mavs as the series goes back to Houston where the Mavs have lost four in a row in the postseason ( including Game 1 & 2). with nearly 10 years since their last win in Houston during the playoffs, Dallas needs more than desperation to will them to victory against the Rockets.
The Spurs looked like they were ready put the Clippers away for good after a dominant 100-73 win in Game 3 and with Game 4 scheduled at the AT&T Center. But the stubborn Clippers had other plans in mind.Behind Chris Paul's 34 points on 11-19 shooting, the Clippers reclaimed homecourt advantage with an impressive 114-105 win over the Spurs in Game 4. Blake Griffin also had a big night of his own, scoring 20 points and pulling down 19 rebounds. But aside from the big games of the two Clipper stars, it was the combined 31 points of Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers that made the big difference for the Clippers as L.A.'s bench was only averaging 23 points per game in the first three games of the series.
Kawhi Leonard remained impressive for the Spurs as he followed up his career-high game 3 with a 26 point effort on Sunday. Leonard is currently averaging 24.8 points per game in this postseason while shooting at a very high 60% from the field, including a spectacular 56.3% from three point distance. Another positive for the Spurs was PG Tony Parker who scored 18 points in Game 4 after averaging just 5.7 points on .250 shooting because of tightness in his Achilles. But if the Spurs are going to beat the Clippers again, they need to stop the entire Clippers' backcourt who went to town in Game 4.
Paul, Rivers, Crawford and J.J. Redick scored a combined 82 of the Clippers' 114 points (.719 of total production)on a 30-52 shooting clip. Redick also broke out of his 10-32 shooting slump in the first three games of the series to score 17 points on 6-12 shooting in Game 4. If the Los Angeles guards retain their aggressiveness in Game 5m the Clippers should be in good shape to take the pivotal Game 5.
The series is going back to Los Angeles, but the Spurs have won four of their last five road playoff games. Again, we go back to San Antonio's impressive Game 5 winning percentage of .742 because history has often dictated the future. That same history also tells us that the Clippers have a 1-7 record in Games 5 & 6 since 2012, when they began this ascent to Western Conference powerhouse status.
This was hyped to be the best and most competitive series in the first round and it's certainly living up to it's billing. It's a pity that only one of them moves forward because both are worthy title contenders. With the all-important game five in front of them, we'll see who the better team truly is.
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