Game: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers
When: 9:30 PM CST
Place: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Records: Memphis (10-7), Clippers (9-6)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles – Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Memphis tasted defeat for the first time in almost two weeks with the loss at Portland. The second longest winning streak in franchise history was snapped with that loss. How the team responds against another talented team will go a long way in determining how this team does the rest of the season. The Grizzlies are 7-6 against the Western Conference including 1-6 against potential playoff teams so far this season. A big road win against the Pacific division leading Clippers would go a long way toward exercising those demons and solidify the Grizzlies playoff hopes.
You want to know how big this game is? Well don’t look for this game on SportsSouth. Don’t look for it on NBA TV or NBA League Pass either. This game is on TNT. That means Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith et al will be talking and the whole country will be watching. That’s a big game. THe loser of this game falls out of a tie for the division lead and is on a two game losing streak. This is a big game in other words.
The last game was a tad disappointing for Memphis. It seemed that everyone on the Grizzlies roster was tired Tuesday night except O J Mayo, who’s limited minutes this season has raised eyebrows among some fans already, but fatigue can’t be an excuse this time. Marc Gasol needs to show the country he’s a better center than DeAndre Jordan (who leads him in All-Star votes), Rudy Gay needs to show he is fully recovered from his shoulder injury, Mike Conley needs to prove he belongs in the list of top Western Conference point guards. Possibly most important, Marreese Speights needs to show he is worth a new contract this summer from some team even if it’s not Memphis (and I am not saying it isn’t).
Los Angeles needs a win as well. After losing their lead in the 4th quarter last night against their crosstown rivals, and seeing Pau Gasol pat Chris Paul on the head like a little child, the Clippers need to show they aren’t anyone’s baby brother. Unlike the Grizzlies, who will be without their all-star, the Clippers will have both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the lineup as well as former all-stars Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler. Their bench will have Mo Williams, another former all-star leading the bench. They are a formidable collection of players.
The Clippers and the Grizzlies have actually had a rather light schedule so far (17 games for the Grizzlies, 15 for the Clippers) compared to other teams but the easy days are over now. Neither team wants to be on a two game losing streak with both losses coming against potential competitors for the playoffs. Someone is going to have to stand up and be counted. It should be a great game.
Prediction: I can’t quantify it, but I think the Grizzlies win this game.