Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers
When: Monday, April 22nd, 9:30PM CST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Series Standing: Clippers lead 1-0
Media: TNT, FOX Sports TN, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Opposing Views: ClipperBlog, ESPNLA- Clippers
Memphis suffered through game one, but is lucky to bring nothing more than an 0-1 deficit into the next match. Naturally, the reaction from fans is to sit and ponder, “well what went wrong?” Any look at the box score leaves one major statistic jumping right off the page. Quite simply, you cannot expect to win a playoff game – or any game, at that – when the opposition more than doubles you up in the rebounds column. The Grizzlies posted a -24 rebound differential, as they were bested 47-23 on the boards (14-4 offensive). For a team that hangs its hat on gettin’ down and dirty in the paint, that is simply unacceptable. The silver lining in this is that as poorly as the Grizz executed in Game 1, they were able to shave the Clippers lead down to one in the fourth quarter, before the Clips pulled away.
Los Angeles pulled away with the lead in quite impressive fashion as the fourth quarter progressed towards expiration. The Clippers simply looked more ready for this game than the Grizzlies did, and their superior talent certainly shone through when all was settled in the series opener. The aforementioned rebounding differential proved that the Clippers do not need last year’s “big meanies” Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans to keep the Grizzlies post game at bay. Chris Paul is out to prove that he is in a league of his own as far as point guards are concerned, and he made a strong case in his favor on Saturday.
- As expected, Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph straight up neutralized one another on Saturday, and look for the stalemate to continue into tonight’s game. To illustrate the battle, check out some excerpts from the box score. In roughly 25 minutes a piece, Randolph had 13 points to Griffin’s 10. Zbo had 4 rebounds – Griffin: 5. Zbo racked up 5 whistles: Griffin fouled out of the game. See where this is going? Randolph and the Grizzlies are sure used to games characterized by the grind, but this one is pure “grime.” It does stand to note though that Blake did not take flight for a single dunk.
- “So you mean to tell me that Blake Griffin had 5 rebounds and the Clippers still owned the glass!?” Yes. Well obviously Zbo only grabbing 4 kind of offsets the merit of keeping Griffin off the boards, but there is more to the story than that. Thanks to excellent navigation of the pick and roll, the Clippers, namely Chris Paul, simply dominated the mid-range area. As a result, the Grizzlies’ bigs, namely Marc Gasol, were consistently drawn out of the painted area and into this state of limbo crossed between committing to the jump shooter/floater and sagging off to the paint. Gasol got killed by this especially, because if he has one shortcoming as a player, it is that he lacks the quickness to recover to the basket. The Clippers abused this, as he was so frequently pulled out of position 10-15 feet from the goal, that he was incapable of getting back in time to put his body on his man and protect the defensive glass. Look for the Grizzlies to “guard” against this tonight, by extending a stronger effort to cut the Clippers’ off at the point of contact on their screen plays.
- Speaking of being out of position, Tony Allen logged a meager 16.5 minutes on Saturday, in a game for him that sort of reflected the converse of what we generally expect out of the Grindfather. Offensively he was good. He played under control, had a nice dunk on a cut to the basket, made 3 of his 4 field goal attempts, and did not turn the ball over. Usually, the defense is a given, and this is all we would need to see to say that he did well. Saturday, however, that was just not the case. He picked up 3 fouls, did not get a steal, block, or rebound, and most detrimentally got caught out of position far too often. Two major plays come to mind that were illustrative of TA helping on the ball and simply being too late to recover to his man. One saw him soaring over a Chauncey Billups pump fake that led to an open 3. The other saw him spinning around in attempt to cover a Jamal Crawford catch-and-shoot, that brought about Crawford’s four-point-play opportunity. This is a problem for Coach Hollins to solve, but one potential solution could be to have Allen play on the ball against CP3. This could lessen the burden of help defense on Paul, allowing Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince to stick the three point shooters.
- Next I want to talk about the Grizzlies’ offense. As a whole, the offense did not look all that bad, surprisingly. The Grizz shot the ball relatively well at 46.5% for the game – just over 2 percentage points higher than their regular season average. Similarly, they went for 41% from the arc, compared to their 34.5% on the year. On top of this, they notched 22 assists on 33 field goals, and took care of the ball turning it over only 7 times. So what went wrong, exactly? Towards the end of the game, the Clippers ratcheted up their defense by trapping the ball in the half court. Against a team like the Grizzlies that takes a long time to set up offensively, this proved to be a lethal technique. The Grizzlies really need to settle into their sets to get things going and the Clippers took that away from them in the fourth. I hate to say this, but I think it was the first time in a while that they missed having a guy like Rudy Gay out there. When you’re incapable of getting your sets going, it is nice to have the luxury of a player to toss it to and get off his own shot. Sure, we fans grew pretty tired of seeing that luxury abused as Gay would chuck games away in dreadfully large doses, but it is a nice luxury to have when the situation calls for it.
Some quick final musings:
- Ed Davis put up a very solid 6 points and 6 rebounds in just 12 minutes of play and really deserves to get some more burn tonight.
- Jerryd Bayless may have been our most reliable offensive weapon with 19 points on 12 shots. He could really divide the front office this off-season, as if he opts out (which he should for his sake) it could very well become a question between keeping him or Allen on the books.
- Keyon Dooling has played about as well as you can expect from an April addition. His three point shooting has been a bonus.
- Mike Conley was said to be the target of the Clippers’ defensive attack, Saturday, and it showed. He came to life in the second half and was much more himself, but the Grizzlies need to find a way to keep him a consistent catalyst for the offense if they want to have any chance tonight.