This could be the most exciting, down-to-the-wire first-round matchup in the NBA playoffs. The Clippers earned the No. 3 seed while the defending champion Spurs fell to the No. 6 seed after a season-ending loss to New Orleans. The Clippers have homecourt advantage and that will be huge considering Game 7, if necessary, would be at Staples Center on May 2. It's the same day as the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. This series should be a knockdown, dragout, too. -- JILL PAINTER LOPEZ
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DeAndre Jordan versus Aaron Baynes is an advantage for the Clippers. Tiago Splitter has battled calf injuries and his status for Game 1 is uncertain. Jordan wants to help defensively against Tim Duncan, too. Jordan averages 15.0 rebounds per game and Baynes just 4.5. The question is Jordan's free-throw shooting in the postseason. Gregg Popovich employs hack-a-DJ. Jordan said he's not worried, and the Clippers have won when opponents use this strategy anyway.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsMatthew Emmons
Chris Paul and J.J. Redick versus Tony Parker and Danny Green makes for an awesome backcourt matchup. Paul seems to play his best against the best competition. Paul played all 82 games this year. Parker battled injuries and has hit his stride. Danny Green is a scorer who is averaging 11.7 points per game.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
Power forwards Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan, yes please! The savvy, consistent, successful veteran versus the hard-working, physical Griffin who has improved every year. Griffin, 26, has fresh legs since he missed 15 games from elbow surgery. Duncan turns 39 in one week.
NBAE via Getty ImagesChris Covatta
Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich are friends and admirers of each other's work. Rivers won an NBA title with Boston in 2008 and is in his second year trying to get the Clippers over that second-round hurdle. Popovich has won five NBA championships and led the Spurs to 18 consecutive playoff seasons. Rivers played for Popovich in 1996 in San Antonio. Popovich has the edge with rings for each finger, but Rivers might outduel his dining companion this series.
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The Clippers -- who lead the NBA in technical fouls -- need to keep their emotions in check and technical fouls in the rearview mirror. Rivers wants the Clippers to play with emotion but not be overly emotional. The Spurs are a smooth, consistent machine that has made the playoffs the last 18 consecutive seasons, the longest active run in the NBA. Tim Duncan is 38 and Tony Parker 32 and Manu Ginobili is 37 and the Clippers' Big Three average 28.6. If this series goes seven games, that will matter.
Clippers in 7 games. The Clippers have the better starting five and arguably best sixth man in the league Jamal Crawford. The Spurs have a better bench, but with shorter rotations that won't matter in the playoffs and Crawford should be hitting his stride following the calf injury. With Paul's leadership, Blake Griffin's ability to hit jumpers outside and shots inside, Jordan's defense and rebounding and J.J Redick's career-best year from 3-point range, the Clippers will move on to the Western Conference semifinals.