Skip to content

PBT NBA Playoff Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Apr 20, 2013, 12:26 AM EDT

Los Angles Clippers Griffin drives to the basket between Memphis Grizzlies Randolph and Gasol of Spain, during the first half of NBA basketball action in Memphis Reuters

SEASON RECORDS

Memphis: 56-26, fifth seed in the West

L.A. Clippers: 56-26, fourth seed in the West thanks to winning the Pacific Division

SEASON SERIES

Clippers took three of the four meetings.

KEY INJURIES

None.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Grizzlies: offense 101.7 (18th in NBA), defense 97.4 (2nd in NBA)
Clippers: offense 107.7 (4th in NBA), defense 101.0 (9th in NBA)

Differential: Grizzlies +4.2 (8th in NBA), Clippers +6.7 (4th in NBA)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES:

Pace: It’s no secret that this is essentially an offense versus defense matchup, and one that’s about as extreme as you can get. The Clippers prefer an uptempo, high-possession game where they can get out in transition and allow Chris Paul to create easy opportunities for his athletic bigs on the break. The Grizzlies prefer a grind-it-out, half court contest where it can use one of the league’s best defenses to force their opponent into low percentage shots.

The thing about it though, and what the problem will be for the Grizzlies in this series, is that the Clippers can play in the halfcourt just as well. L.A.’s fourth ranked offense comes from a team that ranked just 19th in the league in pace on the season, while the Grizzlies were second to last in the same category.

The fewer possessions the better as far as Memphis is concerned, but that will only help their cause. Against this Clippers team, it still won’t guarantee success.

For the Grizzlies: Memphis has to lock the Clippers up defensively to have any chance in this series. That means containing Chris Paul, defending the pick-and-roll action with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan smartly as a team, and not letting Jamal Crawford get loose for too many points off the bench. That’s easier said than done, but Memphis is one of the few teams that has the personnel to make it happen.

Once Memphis gets its defense firing on all cylinders, it needs to find a way to finish the game with more than 80-something points on the scoreboard. Mike Conley has really improved in the last couple of months both offensively and as a distributor, and the Grizzlies can always go with heavier minutes for Jerryd Bayless off the bench in relief of Tony Allen if the offense is sputtering. As good as Allen is defensively, he’s a misadventure on the opposite end of the floor, and in this series especially the Grizzlies might have to go with a more offensive-minded lineup than they typically are used to.

Marc Gasol is in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, but Zach Randolph is the one who does the majority of the damage offensively inside. Gasol is a capable scorer, however, and the Grizzlies may need to lean on him a little more this series in that area than they have throughout the season.

For the Clippers: There might not be as many transition opportunities as L.A. is used to in this series, but when they do present themselves, the Clippers need to take advantage. Getting guys like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan going early with easy buckets on the break will be helpful, considering the bruising team defense that they’re likely to face against Gasol and Randolph in the half-court set.

The Clippers will also need to execute at least minimally offensively even if the shots aren’t falling for stretches, because despite last season’s miraculous 27-point comeback in Game 1 of the playoff series between these same two teams, digging a big hole against the defense of this year’s Grizzlies is a recipe for disaster.

As long as the Clippers execute offensively and get production from anyone in their stable of capable role players, L.A. should have a large advantage in the series.

OUTLOOK

I’ve said it all season long — the Grizzlies’ lack of offensive production and ability to consistently and cleanly execute on that end of the floor makes them extremely beatable by a team like the Clippers which has multiple ways to score. The “defense wins championships” mantra is overrated; it’s only true if you can can actually outscore your your opponent, and I don’t see Memphis doing that more than once or twice against this edition of the Clippers.

PREDICTION

Clippers in six, though if they end up winning the series in five it won’t at all be a surprise.

Latest Posts
  1. Cavaliers give sneak peek of new home court design (VIDEO)

    Oct 1, 2014, 12:06 AM EDT

    cavs court

    New floor should be in place for the start of the 2014-15 season.

  2. Nuggets mascot in trouble after making unauthorized appearance at GOP rally

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Professional sports franchises are businesses above all else, and typically would rather avoid politics.

  3. Tuesday And-1 Links: Rudy Gay, Kings not really talking next contract right now

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Rudy Gay, Pete D'Alessandro, Michael Malone Rudy Gay, Pete D'Alessandro, Michael Malone

    Ben McLemore knows how to photobomb. His coach isn’t sure he can do much else.

  4. John Calipari hired someone to send NBA advanced stats of Kentucky’s players

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    John Calipari John Calipari

    I don’t know whether this helps Kentucky’s players. It opens Calipari’s options, though.

  5. Former NBA player, current TNT analyst Kenny Smith gets reality show with family

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

    Kenny Smith Getty Images

    Now we know what show promos TNT is going to beat us over the head with during the next playoffs.

  6. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Miami Heat

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Expectations are reduced, but Miami still has the chance to be pretty a pretty good team — even without LeBron James.

  7. Dion Waiters on claim Wizards have NBA’s best backcourt: ‘That’s nonsense’

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    John Wall fires back: ‘They haven’t seen a playoff game yet. When they make one they can start talking.’

  8. Mike Miller points to him being amnestied as start of LeBron James leaving Miami

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    Mike Miller being amnestied may have been the first domino to fall in LeBron bolting.

  9. LeBron James dealing with back pain

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    LeBron could miss Cavaliers’ practice tonight

  10. Brian Shaw wants Ty Lawson to watch Peyton Manning practice, lead team

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Manning leads by detailed preparation and then an ability to read a defense, a good example for any point guard.

  11. Ricky Rubio with half-court alley-oop to Andrew Wiggins (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Timberwolves New Players Getty Images

    We could see a lot more of this during the season.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3668)
  2. R. Rondo (3418)
  3. K. Bryant (3230)
  4. D. Wade (2341)
  5. R. Allen (2319)
  1. D. Williams (2233)
  2. K. Leonard (2008)
  3. D. Rose (1930)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1922)
  5. M. Smart (1866)