Friday, April 27, 2012
4/27/2012 01:30:00 PM | Posted by Nate Hughart | Edit Post
Will homecourt matter in this matchup? Probably not. And since homecourt was not decided until last night (it belongs to Memphis after their relatively easy victory over Orlando), it's likely that both teams are pretty evenly matched. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies (both victories in LA) twice (the first meeting without Randolph) and the Grizzlies beat the Clippers in Memphis a couple weeks ago. What can we learn from this? Little, and only because playoff basketball is a different animal. Too many factors, especially for playoff teams like the Clippers and Grizzlies, factor into wins and losses. What makes the series so intriguing is the notable mismatches each side has working in their favor.
|The Grizzlies are so anonymous that their mascot takes more pictures than they do.|
The Grizzlies are probably the lesser known of teams, which is unfortunate, but one biproduct, that is fortunate, is that a series with the Lob City of Angelsters will help raise Memphis' profile. After surprising some (except basketball people) with a 1st round victory as an 8th seed against San Antonio last season, Memphis may surprise some again with a 1st round victory against a higher profile opponent.
First, the numbers.
Memphis and Los Angeles are two different style of teams that go about getting their results differently. Memphis and Los Angeles are not two of the faster teams in the NBA (Memphis is 18th in pace; Los Angeles 27th) so I wouldn't expect a run n gun affair between these two teams. Additionally, Memphis is in the top 10 in Defensive Rating and Los Angeles is in the top 10 in Offensive Rating. Which wins out? Which is interesting because the series could be decided by either teams strength, either teams weaknesses or, in my estimation the most likely, some combination of both. Now here is the Clippers:
Clippers won Season Seires 2-1
Memphis 91 at LA Clippers 98
Memphis 85 at LA Clippers 101
LA Clippers 85 at Memphis 94
Memphis vs. L.A. Clippers
Game 1 – Sun April 29 at Memphis 9:30PM (TNT)
Game 2 – Wed May 2 at Memphis 9:30PM (TNT)
Game 3 – May 5 at L.A. Clippers 4:30PM (ESPN)
Game 4 – May 7 at L.A. Clippers TBD
Game 5 * May 9 at Memphis TBD
Game 6 * May 11 at L.A. Clippers TBD
Game 7 * May 13 at Memphis TBD
The bottom line for both teams is this: You win in the playoffs with your best players. LA's best players are Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Mo Williams and Caron Butler. Memphis' best players are Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Who wins? Whomever is the most effective at implementing their will upon each other.
|Chris Paul is so awesome that he doesn't need a background when taking a picture.|
The X Factor for the series, as far as I can tell, will be on Rudy Gay vs all of the Clipper SF's. If Gay wins his matchup's consistently, the Grizzlies will probably win in 6 games. If Gay doesn't win his matchup's consistently, it will likely be a knock em down drag em out 7 game affair that has Memphis fans rocking the FedExForum in a dramatic series. For the Clippers, the keys will be getting Griffin good shots inside, and figuring out how to get Chris Paul shots. While Mike Conley is a fairly decent defender, nobody can stop Chris Paul. Does Paul have the will and desire to push the Clippers past the Grizzlies even though the Grizzlies have a better starting 5? This series could be the defining moment of Chris Paul's career as strange as that may seem to type 8 years into Paul's career.
It's the blue collar grind 'em out ugly Grizzlies vs the pretty, high flying Los (Lob) Angeles (City) Clippers. Answers to these questions and more began at 9:30 Eastern on Sunday Night on TNT.