Clippers and Spurs Down to Best of Three Heading into Game 5

If you thought the Los Angeles Clippers would just roll over and die after two straight losses to the San Antonio Spurs, you were mistaken.

Chris Paul came out in Game 4 with a vicious demeanor, playing like vintage CP3 with 34 points and seven assists.

But who'd have thought it would be Austin Rivers, and not Paul, who would have the biggest impact on the game?

Rivers delivered a much-needed boost off the bench, as his 16 points in 17 minutes helped LA tie up the series with a pivotal 114-105 victory at the AT&T Center.

Despite a potential momentum shift in favor of the Clippers, Game 5 at Staples Center still appears to be a contest they need to win more so than the Spurs.

As we've seen in this series, the importance of home court is not exhaustive — with both sides so far 1-1 at home — but to lose on their home floor and then fly back to San Antonio, with the Spurs winners of three of the series' last four games, could be too much to overcome.

To anyone who watched Game 4, it was clear the Clippers benefitted immensely from the Spurs missing a plethora of shots they normally make and an allotment of needless fouls on Chris Paul — a 90 percent free throw shooter on the year — while the team was in the bonus.

It's safe to say neither of those circumstances will persist at the same rates in Game 5, but that aside, a Clippers victory starts and ends with the play of Chris Paul.

In their two wins in the series, Paul is averaging 33 points, shooting over 61 percent from the field on 19 field goal attempts and turning the ball over 2.5 times a game.

But in their two losses, CP3 has averaged 14 points, shot 42 percent on 13 field goal attempts, and saw his turnovers jump to 4.5 per game. They need a stellar, dominant and efficient Paul to win Game 5.

The other key besides Paul is not a trick question by any means: it's the bench. As the series wears on, the Spurs should be fresher with more depth, which is why the x-factor for Doc Rivers' team is for someone other than Jamal Crawford to step up for his second unit, much like his son did in Game 4.

And it doesn't even necessarily have to be in terms of scoring, they simply need positive minutes. That could come in the form of Glen Davis grabbing five boards and drawing a charge or Hedo Turkoglu boxing out his man on every defensive possession. When your bench is as empty as the Clippers, you need all the help you can get.

On the flip side, Kawhi Leonard has been lethal in this series and the Clippers may want to consider putting Paul on him, at least late in the game.

Another thing to watch out for in Game 5 is Doc putting DeAndre Jordan on the bench to avoid the intentional fouling implemented by Gregg Popovich on the big man, who is shooting under 40 percent from the charity stripe.

The Clippers probably cannot play better than they did in Game 4, but if they limit fouls on Jordan, Paul comes out like the alpha dog he is, and the bench, beyond Crawford, makes an impact, they'll have a good shot to take a 3-2 series lead back to the Alamo.

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