May 7, 2012, 6:32 PM EDT
In a kind of washout of a first round of the NBA playoffs, the Clippers vs. Grizzlies has been the only series completely watchable for anyone other than diehard fans. (The Oklahoma City wins over Dallas were not bad, but that was a sweep.)
This series saw Los Angeles come back from 27 down to win Game 1. It has seen a physical nastiness — the kind of “we don’t like you” playoff play that we have waited through the regular season to see. It has seen dunks, and it has seen Chris Paul be the best guy on the court. So far we’ve seen a dramatic 2-1 Clippers lead.
What will we see in Game 4?
A desperate Memphis team that knows if they go down 3-1 it’s all over. But desperation alone is not enough — Memphis has struggled to score in the fourth quarter of their losses, and struggled to get the ball inside. When Mike Conley sits, they become a much more perimeter team, the ball doesn’t get inside to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol where they want it. Gasol has just two points in the fourth quarter of this series — that cannot happen for Memphis. He has looked good in stretches, Gasol needs the rock.
The Clippers ball pressure is getting to the Grizzlies and it has been key. Memphis has to get the ball inside then knock down the threes on the kickouts, things they did not do well in Game 3.
Memphis also will continue to be physical with the Clippers until the Clippers make them pay — the Clippers went 13-30 from the free throw line in Game 3. If the Clippers knock down their free throws, they get a much easier win. This is where the private war between Randolph and Blake Griffin is being waged, both are beating up on each other, but Griffin is getting the better of it with the usually efficient Z-Bo only shooting 40 percent in the series.
The Clippers have gotten the better bench play — something likely to continue on their home court for Game 4 — and they got the emotional boost of Caron Butler gutting it out and playing with a broken hand. If Reggie Evans can hit the boards and Nick Young can knock down a few shots, the Clippers will be ahead of game.
Meanwhile, Tony Allen’s sore knee is keeping him off the court — he didn’t play in the fourth quarter of Game 3 — and the Grizzlies miss his perimeter defense. Chris Paul is the best player on the court in this series (24 points and 11 assists last game) and while Allen couldn’t stop him he’d make CP3 work harder than he has had to so far.
Memphis will be desperate, and that likely means a tight Game 5. If Memphis can get the ball inside to their big men in position, if they can get someone other than Rudy Gay to step up in the fourth quarter, they could make this a best-of-three series. But if they don’t reverse the trends — or if the Clippers just knock down their free throws — Memphis will not be taking a step forward off of last year’s run.
Oct 20, 2014, 12:26 AM EDT
Kobe Bryant reaches, Alec Burks teaches.
Oct 19, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT
Taj Gibson knows how to finish.
Oct 19, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Tom Thibodeau is not the yoga type.
Oct 19, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will take the floor together for the first time since the preseason opener.
Oct 19, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Experimental preseason game between Nets and Celtics took place Sunday.
Oct 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Things feel a little different in Miami.
Oct 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Parker wants the league to spread out the regular season over more weeks.
Oct 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Hollins won’t adjust starters minutes as he coaches the Nets during the experimental game Sunday.
Oct 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
“Akron” celebrates James’ homecoming.
Oct 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
The Knicks star says the biggest issue for players is the amount of consecutive games they play.
Kawhi Leonard to miss remainder of preseason due to infection, availability for opening night in question
Oct 19, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Popovich had legitimate reasons for holding him out.
Oct 19, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Oct 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Anthony should have more help than in the recent past, but he’ll need to score plenty in order for his team to have a shot.
Oct 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Olajuwon is employed by the Rockets, and has been working with Howard the last two summers.
Spurs’ Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner’s apology: ‘I’m just surprised he didn’t do it in a chicken suit’
Oct 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Popovich goes deep, referencing an incident that occurred back in 2005.
Oct 18, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Parker is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors.
Oct 18, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Bryant can still get up.
Oct 18, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Celtics have too many guaranteed contracts, and are already set at Bynum’s position.
NBA announces groundbreaking partnership to implement basketball development curriculum in Chinese schools
Oct 18, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Huge step in increasing the game’s popularity on a global scale.
Oct 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Of course that’s not going to happen.
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- Nets coach Hollins on 44-minute game: ‘The change will be for the guys who don’t start’ 9
- Spurs’ Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner’s apology: ‘I’m just surprised he didn’t do it in a chicken suit’ 6
- Blake Griffin goes after Trevor Booker following flagrant foul, says he may retaliate in the future (VIDEO) 30
- Suns coach Hornacek says shortening games won’t help teams rest their stars 2
- Lakers coach Byron Scott’s philosophy on three-pointers: ‘I don’t believe it wins championships’ 33
- Accounting for Klay Thompson choosing a contract extension over new-TV-deal money 2
- Kobe Bryant calls ESPN voters who ranked him No. 40 ‘idiots’ 34