Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Clippers (4) v. Memphis Grizzlies (5)


NOAH GRAHAM  NBAEGETTY IMAGES

The Clippers and the Grizzlies have a violent recent history. They don't like each other much and last years playoffs were a perfect indication we are going to enjoy some of that same bad blood this year. All the Lob-City crap will be put on hold. Well maybe not on hold but this will not be a run and gun shoot out. High flying high jinx will be  be met with retaliation. Nothing will come easy and as the Grizzlies found out the hard way last year, no lead will ever be enough to sit on.


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)

Season Series: Clippers 3-1







Key Players: 

LA Clippers (56-26) -- Chris Paul: This maybe the pivot point for the Grizzlies. If they want to beat the Clippers they need to find a way to handcuff Paul. Paul is the best point guard in the league capable of torching teams in multiple ways and doing it super effectively. The key for the Grizzlies will be to force him to constantly adjust. If they can keep Paul off balance even if for a a few small stretches per game will give the Grizzlies the opportunity they need to take their shot at getting out of the first round.

Grizzlies (56-26) -- The Grizzlies have two keys to their teams success. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will have to be forces in the paint. Keeping out of foul trouble will be key. These two towers have defense down but they will be taking on the Clippers and the Clippers get big men in foul trouble easily.

X factors:
Clippers -- There are a lot of x-factors for these up and comers  but DeAndre Jordan, in my opinion, is the biggest one. His play can swing this series and the ones after it. Jordan exploded in the beginning of this season looking like he had elevated his game to the next level we all thought he had but he reverted around the quarter season mark and has been the same "full of upside' player we were talking about last year.Jordan will need to be exceptional against Randolph and Gasol if the Clippers plan on getting out of the first round  without engaging in a massive dogfight that will mare them for the second round. Oh yeah and hit a free throw big fella.

The massive x-factor is Jamal Crawford. The grizzlies can not let this assassin get his sites set or the grizzles second unit could find themselves giving up major leads and some key wins to boot. No one needs me to tell them how deadly Crawford is the Grizzlies just need to hope he doesn't decide to take it to another level as he tends to do.

Grizzles -- Mike Conely might be the obvious X-factor but there really isn't anyone else that fits that description on the grizzlies. Conley will have the most important job in this series in Defending Chris Paul. If he can find a way to disrupt Paul's rhythm and prevent the Clips from getting into their fast-break offense the Grizzlies will enjoy the fruits of his labors. Conley isn't close to the best point guard in the league but he doesn't have to be he just needs to be disruptive and keep his cool under Paul's defensive pressure. Both, are things he is capable of doing with his rough and tough front court mates.


The Skinny: Do not get sucked into the hype about the Clippers only offensive weapon being the fast break. It's a fallacy. They are actually far more efficient in the half court (Fifth) than they are in transition (twelfth) in the league. The problem teams have is preventing them from getting into transition to create fast scoring opportunities and that elusive and intangible momentum factor. Stopping the transition reduces them to the half court where they love to run a side pick and roll but can find themselves getting bored and anxious at times. this is where the Grizzlies can really take advantage of the Clippers. The Grizzlies suffocating defense is capable of getting the job done and reducing the Clips opportunities which can only help the Grizz's chances at winning.

The Clippers would be smart to push the tempo with the Grizzlies as much as they can and take advantage of the Grizzlies weakness within transition. If they let the Grizzlies set up on defense it could very well cost them a couple valuable games.

Prediction: Grizzlies in 7 But, I could be wrong. Clippers in 5. I'm a little back and forth here like this series will be. 

Game 1 in Los Angeles: Saturday, April 21, 10:30, ESPN
Game 2 in Los Angeles: Monday, April 22, 10:30, TNT
Game 3 in Memphis: Thursday, April 25, 9:30, TNT
Game 4 in Memphis: Saturday, April 27, 4:30, TNT
Game 5 in Los Angeles: Tuesday, April 30
Game 6 in Memphis: Friday, May 3
Game 7 in Los Angeles: Sunday, May 5




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