Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers
When: 2:00 pm CST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (25-20), Los Angeles Clippers (26-21)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles – Chris Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Memphis is struggling despite a roster that is healthy for the first time all season. Free throw shooting, defense and outside shooting have all had their influences on the team’s struggles but it appears that chemistry has been the biggest problem for the team to overcome.
The Grizzlies are 1-3 since Zach Randolph’s return and 2-5 since Z-Bo was cleared for full contact practice. It could be a coincidence but it seems very suspicious. Throw in the addition of Gilbert Arenas and the team is dealing with integrating two former All-Stars onto a young roster. It is causing some adjustment issues.
Most distressing has been the Grizzlies sudden inability to defend. In the last five games the Grizzlies have given up on average 107.6 ppg on 48.3% FG shooting. This from the team that was the best in the league just two weeks ago in preventing teams from scoring 100 points a game. The Grizzlies have dropped to the 10th best defense in the league and with an offense that averages only 95.41 points a game this is not a trend that can be ignored. The Grizzlies are 3-6 in games where the opponent scores 100 points and the three wins came back in February in three successive games. Outside of that streak the Grizzlies are winless when allowing opponents to score 100.
Los Angeles has been struggling as well lately having lost 3 straight and 6 of their last 9 games. The team just finished a three games in three days set that saw them lose all three games.
Offense has been the Clippers downfall as they have failed to score more than 96 points in a game since March 9. This game is the first of five straight home games for the Clippers so if they want to win their division they need to start winning now. The reality is that the Clippers are 11-19 since Chauncey Billups was lost for the season with an injury.
The Clippers are led by All-Stars Blake Griffin (20.9 ppg) and Chris Paul (19.5 ppg). Outside of that the team struggles to find points however with Mo Williams (42.9 FG%) and Caron Butler (39.2 FG%) being inconsistent shooting the ball. The Clippers are getting outscored by two points a game in their last 10 games so it hasn’t been just the schedule that has worked against them.
Rumors are flying that Head Coach Vinny Del Negro has lost control of the team and could lose his job if things don’t turn around quickly. He publicly chastised his team after a loss at Oklahoma City. The Clippers night off after the New Orleans loss may help settle the team but facing a desperate Grizzlies team in an early afternoon game won’t make it easy.
Prediction: Two teams desperate to turn things around should provide for an interesting match-up. However, a desperate team at home has to be considered having the edge against a desperate team in the middle of a road trip.