Skip to content

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

Apr 20, 2013, 12:26 AM EST

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. Report: Hornets, Nets talking possible Lance Stephenson for Joe Johnson trade

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:04 PM EST

    Lance Stephenson Getty Images

    The Nets and Hornets talked but did not pull the trigger on a Brook Lopez trade recently.

  2. Bulls pay tribute to Luol Deng in United Center return (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings

    Deng played his first game in Chicago as a member of a visiting team on Sunday.

  3. Knicks’ Lance Thomas travels, double dribbles and steps out of bounds without any call from the officials (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Miami Heat v New York Knicks Miami Heat v New York Knicks

    Two referees failed to blow the whistle, despite multiple violations occurring in the same sequence.

  4. J.J. Redick, Andre Drummond latest to receive flopping warnings (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    J.J. Redick AP

    Both players successfully tricked the referees into calling a foul.

  5. Paul Pierce hits 2,000th three pointer of career (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He’s just 23 behind Jason Terry for third most on the All-Time list.

  6. LaMarcus Aldridge looks good with 26 points, 9 rebounds playing with bad thumb

    Jan 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Nene AP

    He hd 26 points and 9 boards. That brace worked out pretty well.

  7. Brandon Jennings leaves game in wheelchair, may have torn Achilles

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:01 AM EST

    Brandon Jennings Brandon Jennings

    Can we just get through the rest of this season without any more major NBA injuries, please?

  8. Report: Celtics may keep Tayshaun Prince if he’s not traded by the deadline

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Brad Stevens reportedly likes Prince, so a buyout may not be in the cards.

  9. Derek Fisher didn’t realize motivating his players would be such a big part of being an NBA head coach

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Derek Fisher AP

    Fisher played 18 years, and claims that his motivation always came from within.

  10. After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade was fined for flipping off some fans who he believed crossed the line.

  11. Dwight Howard leaves arena in walking boot after suffering ankle injury against Suns

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Dwight Howard AP

    Howard left the game after just eight minutes and did not return.

  12. LaMarcus Aldridge decides to delay surgery, will return for Blazers Saturday vs. Wizards

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:17 PM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Aldridge has a tear in his left thumb, and was originally set to be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (8591)
  2. L. Aldridge (8152)
  3. D. Wade (7966)
  4. H. Whiteside (6979)
  5. J. Noah (6934)
  1. A. Davis (6902)
  2. R. Rubio (6804)
  3. K. Martin (6756)
  4. J. Holiday (6435)
  5. C. Anthony (6221)