Clippers have one but job is a long way from being done against Spurs

Chris Paul and Matt Barnes try to strip the ball away from Spurs center Aron Baynes during the Clippers' 107-92 victory April 19 over San Antonio in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Chris Paul and Matt Barnes try to strip the ball away from Spurs center Aron Baynes during the Clippers’ 107-92 victory April 19 over San Antonio in Game 1 of their playoff series.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

If this is the Clippers’ one shining moment, then it won’t be much of a playoff run. They have won the opener of a first-round series against the defending NBA champions, so big whoop-de-do.

“This is not the NCAA tournament,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday, “where you win one game and they’re out.”

Of course, the Clippers could be onto something if they can beat the San Antonio Spurs again in Game 2 on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Spurs have never lost the first two games of a first-round series since their run of five championships started in 1999. There’s also this statistical nugget, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau: NBA teams that won the first two games of a seven-game series have advanced 245 out of 261 times.

So a victory over the Spurs would give the Clippers something to celebrate besides the birthday of longtime broadcaster Ralph Lawler, who turned 77 on Tuesday.


Rivers said his team would try to adopt the same mind-set that produced a supercharged effort in the Clippers’ 15-point victory in Game 1.

“We have to play hard, we have to attack and we have to be us,” Rivers said.

The Clippers also will need to answer the adjustments San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich is sure to make, though No. 1 on that list might merely be making shots after the Spurs shot poorly from nearly every spot on the floor in the series opener.

A review of game footage revealed some defensive slippage the Clippers would like to fix. Then again, the Spurs specialize in putting teams in bad spots with their perpetual ball movement.

Many of the Spurs’ missed jumpers came without a hand in their face or even a body within their vicinity as the Clippers scrambled to help their defensive helpers.

“They can put you in positions where you have to make a choice and you have to live with it at that moment,” Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford said. “Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The same could be said for San Antonio’s strategy of intentionally fouling Clippers center DeAndre Jordan late in the second quarter of Game 1. Jordan missed three of his first four free throws in that situation before going on to make three of his next four.

Jordan said he was prepared for the tactic to be used throughout the series and had formulated a mental approach to deal with the ploy.

“Don’t get frustrated, don’t tense up, don’t react to when they foul you, because they’re going to do stuff to knock you off what you’re thinking about,” Jordan said. “Just try to stay locked in as much as possible.”

Ultimately, the Clippers have accomplished nothing more than winning one game on their home court, something that’s expected of top teams in the playoffs.

Series can go sideways quickly when that doesn’t happen. The Clippers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals last season after dropping two games at home.

“It’s important for us to protect home court,” Jordan said. “We didn’t do a good job of that last playoffs that we had, we lost Game 6 on our home floor. That’s not something we want to give up again.”

Something the Clippers would like to replicate is the result from their series opener against the Spurs, which would give them something to get excited about.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch