Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers
When: Saturday, April 27th, 3:30PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Series Standing: Grizzlies trail 1-2
Media: TNT, Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Opposing Views: ClipperBlog, ESPNLA- Clippers
Memphis emphatically took the first game at the rockin’ Grindhouse, in a game that can be broadly characterized by Tony Allen’s sinking a garbage time 26-footer – things were just going the Grizzlies’ way. Be it that home cookin’, or Grindhouse magic, the Grizz just looked like a completely different team in Game 3. And by different, I mean normal. Much like we became accustomed to seeing in the regular season, the Grizzlies controlled the glass, kept the opposition in the low 80’s, racked up a bunch of steals, and rode the tanks in the post to victory. Oh yeah, and Zach Randolph was incredible. This afternoon, they look to ride the momentum and even out the series heading back to LA.
Los Angeles is not going to go down quietly in Game 4. The Clippers are certainly not happy with letting the Grizzlies back into the series, and All-Stars Chris Paul (4 assists) and Blake Griffin (2 rebounds) will be storming the court with a vengeance after both having been locked out of what they do best in Game 3. The Clippers offense will adjust after looking stagnant against the Grizzlies’ resurgent stingy, havoc-inducing defense, and shouldn’t be expected to shoot 15 less times than the Grizz from the charity stripe again.
- First and foremost, I just want to say talk about Mike Conley as an unsung hero of game 3. Months from now people will go back and all they’ll have is the box score. And they’ll see games one and three and go “man Conley stunk.” And they couldn’t be further from the truth. Thursday’s game may have been the most efficient 1-9 shooting night I have ever seen. He logged 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, led the team in blocks with 2, didn’t turn the ball over once, and made all of his free throws. In spite of his shot not falling he drew a second defender all game, which opened up space for Marc Gasol jumpers on the pick and pop, which in turn opened up space for Gasol’s laser entry passes to Zach Randolph who makes a nice seal on the help when his man retreats to Marc. Any possession that features the three of them in rhythm should figure to have a high success rate. It may not be saying much, but this is the Grizzlies offense at it’s finest, and Mike’s assertiveness is the catalyst of it all. He needs to stay in attack mode so that the Clippers keep throwing extra defenders on him, and I don’t care if he goes 1-for-x for the rest of the series if it means drawing the heat away from the bigs.
- Story of Game 1: Grizzlies -24 on the glass… lose by 21. Story of Game 2: Grizzlies -2 on the boards, game decided by a last second shot. Story of Game 3: Grizzlies win the rebound battle +12… win the game by 12. Coincidence? I think not. The Grizzlies and Clippers shot the same percentage from the field (38.8) for the game, but the Grizzlies did so while putting up 13 more shots. The extra hustle getting after the ball makes a world of a difference, and the wild Grindhouse crowd plays a bunch into that I’m sure. A massive tip of the hat to everybody in attendance. Keep it up! And while a lot of the extra shots for the Grizz were the result of attacking the rebounds, but plenty can be attributed to…
- The defense of the guards. Which was absolutely on point. Looking at the statsheet, there is plenty to be said about the aggressiveness of the backcourt of Conley and Allen, who were their usual havoc-inducing selves as they combined for 7 steals; more than the Clippers’ team combined. Beyond that, they kept Paul off the free throw line and limited him to just 8 points. Similarly, Jamal Crawford was 3-10 with no 4 point plays, Chauncey Billups was 3-8, and Eric Bledsoe finally learned how to miss, as he was scoreless. More of this effort from Allen, Conley, Quincy Pondexter and co. tonight, because the Clippers’ explosive scoring guards are not easily kept quiet over time. The Grizzlies perimeter trio was not alone in its role of containing the Clippers guards though, as they had a lot of help from Gasol locking down the devastating pick and roll.
- Regarding Gasol’s defense, I couldn’t have said it better than Fred Katz over at Clipperblog: “Before the game began, Dikembe Mutombo presented Marc Gasol with his Defensive Player of the Year trophy and for the rest of the night, Gasol proceded to show exactly why he was the recipient of that award…Basically, Gasol was so dominant that he forced the Clippers to depend heavily on a complementary set and any time the Grizzlies can get the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands.”
- For the Grizzlies to continue to make any noise in this series, the small forward position will need to stay awake. Tayshaun Prince has been nowhere to be found offensively, and tends to even fade a bit on D when he doesn’t have a major matchup. Enter Pondexter, who had his best game in ages, Thursday night. He looked like the pre-knee injury Qpon that was the bonafide sixth man of the team. He played rock solid defense and attacked the boards with reckless abandon – illustrated by his follow up and-one off his own missed free throw. So yeah, I’ll let his “hands of stone” moment slide. If he can give the Grizz a steady 20 minutes a night, maybe he’ll get the blood flowing enough to feel his shot again and sink some corner 3’s… those are inexplicably huge for an inside-out team.
Some quick final musings:
- While it’s a disservice to keep Randolph’s monster game out of the analysis section, there’s not much to analyze. Plain and simple: that’s just what he can do. He’s not going to go all “2011 Zbo” on the Clips every night, but man is the team unstoppable when he does. Just keep killin’ the offensive glass and keep your eyes open for Marc’s passes, Zach. When you play like this, the sky’s the limit for this team.
- Jerryd Bayless’s name was conspicuously absent from this write-up, but he seemed to play the role of Bledsoe-spoiler as the two basically neutralized the production of one another and he picked up 3 fouls in 10 minutes. He did however have one of those awesome back door elevator-oops that can be found here.
- Keyon Dooling has been nice for some hustle plays and a three point shot every now and then. The former of which seem to take a bit of a toll on his body, however. He was slow to get up after colliding with Lamar Odom in the last one.
- After playing only 17 minutes in Game 1, the Grindfather Tony Allen has played 31 and 39 respectively in the last two, in which he pulled down a combined 19 rebounds and scored double figures in each. Heck, he even sank a few 18-footers.
For the over-arching matchup analyses, click here