Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers
When: Wednesday, October 31, 9:30 PM CST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Records: Memphis (0-0), Los Angeles (0-0)
Media: Sportsouth, NBA League Pass, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis opens the season against the team that put them out of the playoffs last season and still holding a bit of a grudge for the way their season ended last year. The attitude at the Tip-Off Luncheon was clear as player after player talked about wanting revenge for last season’s disappointment. The Grizzlies finished 4-4 in the preseason but escaped without any serious injuries from training camp this season. Darrell Arthur, who looked healthy and anxious to get back to work, is the only player missing the game due to injury. Mike Conley has put on some weight and looked particularly sharp in the preseason and Wayne Ellington hit 40% of his 3 point attempts over the last 3 games of preseason and should give the Grizzlies a long-range threat missing in the past. However, the Grizzlies season will only be as successful as their front line is. Gay, Randolph and Gasol all need to be healthy and play well together.
Los Angeles made some roster moves went 5-3 in the preseason and look to be ready to make a run in the Western Conference. Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups have been struggling to get ready for the season with Lamar Odom practicing for the first time just the other day. The team has added Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes to their roster but is missing Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Reggie Evans, and Nick Young. The Clippers have been focusing on strengthening their defense from last season and look to be ready to grow beyond Dunk City to become a complete team this year. The Clippers have been traveling a lot in the pre-season having played 8 games covering 15,000 miles including two games against the Heat in China.
Things to Watch For:
These two teams are both looking to start the season strong and the memory of last season’s playoff intensity should make this one of the better opening games around the league. Blake Griffin has shown no ill effects from the torn left medial meniscus suffered while practicing with team USA this summer. The question surrounding the Clippers is how deep they are right now. Lamar Odom has only practiced a couple of times and the team is still waiting for Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups to return from injury. The weakness at SG is particularly glaring for the Clippers as Tony Allen will be able to help Conley covering Paul without a deadly outside shooting threat to occupy his time.
The battle inside is going to be most interesting as Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin highlight the battle. Randolph was traded to Memphis to make room for Griffin in the Clippers lineup and it looked like the right move in the playoffs as Griffin manhandled the out of shape Randolph. Z-Bo is supposed to be in excellent shape now so how this battle ends will likely decide the outcome of the game.