NBA Playoffs 2013
Western Conference, First Round: Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5)
Regular Season Records: Clippers 56-26, Grizzlies 56-26
Regular Season Series: Clippers, 3-1
- In last year’s playoffs, these teams played in the first round, with the Clippers winning 4 games to 3, memorably coming from 27 down with 9 minutes remaining to win Game 1 in Memphis
- The Memphis Grizzlies hold their opponents to the 3rd worst shooting percentage (.437) in the league. The Los Angeles Clippers have the league’s 4th best shooting percentage (.478)
- The Grizzlies play at the league’s slowest pace, at 88.5. The last team to play that slow of a pace and win as many games as the Grizzlies did were the 07-08 Detroit Pistons, who lost in the Eastern Conference Finals
- This season, both teams are in the top 5 in opponents points per game (Memphis: 1st, Los Angeles: 4th)
- Memphis is first and Los Angeles is second in limiting opponents’ total rebounds, despite being ranked 12th and 17th, respectively, in total rebounds
Los Angeles Can Win if…
Chris Paul continues to deserve the “Point God” moniker, breaking through Memphis’ excellent perimeter defense. They’ll need every bit of scoring they can get from Jamal Crawford, filling the role that Nick Young played last year, whose scoring explosion in game one helped the Clippers overcome the monster deficit. Blake Griffin will have to exploit Zach Randolph with his athleticism, and has to take some of the load of Paul. Vinny Del Negro’s been much maligned as a coach, but if he can use his very talented bench well, that would be another huge boost for the Clips.
Memphis Can Win if…
The Grizzlies force the Clippers to play at their pace. Los Angeles thrives in transition, but if the Grizz can limit these opportunities, and force the Clippers into half-court offensive sets, their suffocating team defense should be able to mostly handle Chris Paul’s offense. As long as Mike Conley and Tony Allen manhandle the perimeter defense and Marc Gasol continues to be the defensive wizard he’s been all season, the Clippers will have a tough time finding consistent offense, which could be compounded by the often streaky play of Jamal Crawford and the bench units. Zach Randolph, who was absolutely the key to the team’s playoff success in 2011, needs to return to form and get easy buckets in the post against Blake Griffin. Offensively, they also need to continue to move the ball quickly to create the high-percentage looks that their offense relies upon.
In a mirrored matchup from last year’s 4-5 showdown, the Clippers and Grizzlies will fight to the bitter end. Los Angeles has vastly more offensive firepower than Memphis with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Jamal Crawford, but Memphis has the defensive personnel to shut them down, especially considering Marc Gasol’s masterful defensive play this season. The Clippers snuck past the Grizzlies last year, largely due to their huge comeback, but the Grizzlies are even better than they were last season, despite (and perhaps because of) the loss of Rudy Gay. This will put more pressure back on Zach Randolph, akin to the 2011 playoffs, where he led the team to the Conference semis. Chris Paul will play extraordinarily well, but it won’t be enough to stop Z-Bo and the Grizzlies.
Winner: Memphis, 4-3