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. Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With most 2014 conference-finalists eliminated, Warriors are clear favorite

  2. PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Their rivalry goes back until the Dwight Howard free agent recruitment. If not earlier.

  3. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: ‘There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets’

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Getty Images

    Cuban also says of Houston: “that’s not a very good team over there.”

  4. PBT staff playoff predictions: Lots of Golden State love from us

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Draymond Green, LeBron James AP

    Three PBT writers pick the Warrior to beat the Cavaliers in the Finals.

  5. PBT Extra: Injuries make Grizzlies, Trail Blazers series hard to predict

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marc Gasol Marc Gasol

    Wesley Matthews. Arron Afflalo. Nicolas Batum. C.J. McCollum. Chris Kaman. Mike Conley. Tony Allen. All injured.

  6. PBT Extra: Will Spurs depth, versatility prove too much for Clippers?

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    I just think Doc Rivers the GM has tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach too much — the Spurs versatility and depth gives Gregg Popovich more options.

  7. PBT Extra: Anthony Davis, Pelicans made playoffs. Will they get a fifth game vs. Warriors?

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It’s great to see Anthony Davis on the playoff stage for the first time. Even if it doesn’t last long.

  8. PBT Awards: All-NBA

    Apr 17, 2015, 1:11 PM EDT

    NBA All-Star Game 2015 Getty Images

    Four of five first-team spots are unanimous

  9. Rumor: LaMarcus Aldridge more likely to leave Trail Blazers in free agency than people realize

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler AP

    That may be true, but he’s still likely to stick in Portland

  10. PBT Awards: MVP

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Serbia v USA - 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship Getty Images

    The 3-1 edge goes to…

Featured video

Can Boston put a scare in Cleveland?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5476)
  2. L. James (5283)
  3. C. Parsons (5201)
  4. P. George (4830)
  5. D. Rose (4785)
  1. R. Westbrook (4641)
  2. M. Conley (4635)
  3. K. Bryant (4405)
  4. S. Curry (4395)
  5. M. Gasol (4207)