Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers
When: 8:30 pm, May 2, 2012
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (0-1), Los Angeles (1-0)
Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com and at the FedEx Forum box office.
Memphis blew a 27 point second half lead in losing game 1 to the Clippers. It’s hard to tell yet what the team and fans should make of this. Should they be encouraged by the team getting a huge 2nd half lead or discouraged that it could all disappear in just 9 minutes of court time? The Grizzlies need to put the loss behind them just like they did after getting blown out by the Clippers in LA in March. After that loss the Grizzlies went on a tear beating LA, Miami, Dallas and Oklahoma City on the way. They will need a similar response in this game or face an almost insurmountable situation. Working on FT shooting wouldn’t hurt either. The Grizzlies 11-18 performance from the line certainly helped the Clippers gain some momentum
Los Angeles stole a win in Game 1 and they are happy for it but there are still some question marks hanging over the Clippers heads. How did the team fall behind by so many points so quickly? How is the team going to respond with Caron Butler out for the playoffs? How really healthy is Chris Paul? The first two questions have yet to be answered but anyone concerned about Chris Paul can relax. He showed he is quite healthy in Game 1. The Clippers bench all had positive +/- ratios in Game while the starters all had negatives. That isn’t likely to continue. The Clippers need to get more production from Foye, Jordan and Griffin to steal both games on the road and take command of the series.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Chris Paul
The Paul-Conley match-up was everything it was expected to be and then some in Game 1. Chris Paul was supposed to be slowed by an injured groin and he may have been although anyone looking at his line would be hard pressed to see it. Paul logged 38 minutes scoring 14 points, most in the 4th quarter, and dishing out 11 assists. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and had a steal. Conley was a surprising 5-5 from the arc on the way to scoring 17 points, dishing out 8 assists against only 1 turnover and grabbing 5 boards. The Grizzlies need Conley to continue to hit the open shot and get the ball to the right man because Paul is only going to get better as the series progresses.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Shooting Guards: Tony Allen vs Randy Foye
Randy Foye struggled badly in Game 1 and was not a factor in the Clippers come back even after the Grizzlies moved Tony Allen over to guard Chris Paul. His 1-4 line and 3 total points didn’t reflect his poor play as much as the -24 +/- ratio did. Foye’s last bad game came against Atlanta and he followed it up with a 28 point explosion against the Knicks. Memphis can’t assume he will repeat that poor performance in Game 2. Tony Allen wasn’t much better. He failed to record a steal and was called for the foul on Chris Paul at the end of the game that allowed the Clippers to win the game. Allen has not performed well in the playoffs for Memphis and the team needs him to pick it up in Game 2 both against Foye and Paul when called on. It doesn’t help that Allen didn’t practice with the team on Tuesday while getting his knee checked by doctors.
Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Nick Young
Nick Young was the surprise hero for the Clippers in Game 1. His 19 points (9 in the 4th quarter) helped spark the Clippers back from the dead and his =+/- ratio of +28 led the team. It was most surprising considering that Young was a cumulative -3 since joining the Clippers at the trade deadline. Rudy was solid scoring 19 points, grabbing 7 rebounds but failed to get a steal or a block and was responsible for Young’s open 3 point shots in the fourth. Rudy also missed the potential game winning shot at the buzzer. Rudy is prepared for Young this game as Caron Butler has a broken hand is out for the remainder of the series.
Power Forwards: Zach Randolph vs Blake Griffin
Zach Randolph didn’t rise to the occasion in the first game this season like he did last season in San Antonio. Inserted into the starting lineup on the last day of the season Randolph looked flat-footed and slow all night against the younger, stronger and quicker Griffin. Griffin used that speed to get to the rim where he was very effective. It is not known at this time if Hollins will switch the lineup again to put the bigger and faster Speights back into the lineup or not but it is highly likely Speights will see dramatically more minutes than he did in Game 1. Griffin put up decent numbers in the game but was never really a factor outside of some nice dunks for TV. Griffin did make 3 of 4 free throws. It doesn’t sound impressive until you realize that he averages just barely more than 50% from the line.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Centers: Marc Gasol vs DeAndre Jordan
The biggest fear for Memphis fans heading into game 1 was a passive Gasol in the middle. During last season’s playoff run Marc was right next to Randolph in stepping up his game. For the Grizzlies to advance Gasol needed to dominate Jordan inside. He did in game 1. However the Clippers didn’t use Jordan that much. Gasol scored 14 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists thru 3 quarters but ended the game with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists as the Clippers put a smaller center on Gasol in Reggie Evans. Memphis must go to Gasol and he has to play big for the Grizzlies to rebound in Game 2. Jordan has much less pressure to perform than Gasol but even still he needs to be better than 5 points and 7 boards. Jordan’s two blocks did help however.
Benches: Memphis vs Los Angeles
Memphis’ bench didn’t put up bad numbers. As a group they were 14-30 shooting including 6-8 from the arc. Speights grabbed 9 rebounds in only 17 and a half minutes of play and O J Mayo was second on the team in scoring. The numbers looked good. However the bench was also a combined -31 as a group in scoring vs the Clippers. Anyone wanting to know what happened need only look at that number. The Clippers bench was dominant in game 1 with Young (+28), Evans (+23) and Bledsoe (+24) leading the way. Young has to move into the starting five so the Clippers bench will be thin but likely ready to rumble again in Game 2. Memphis will need to get more production from Cunningham, Arenas and Pondexter and Mayo needs to control the ball much better (4 turnovers) for the Grizzlies in Game 2. Rumors of Allen being unable to go will weaken the Grizzlies bench as well.