Clippers Vs. Grizzlies - Playoffs Round 1, Game 3 - Game Preview

May 2, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) shoots the ball against Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the second half of game two in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedEx Forum. Memphis won 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
2011/2012 NBA Playoffs - Round 1 - Game 3
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vs.
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40-26

41-25
Series Tied 1-1
Game 1 - April 29th in Memphis - Clippers 99, Grizzlies 98
Game 2 - May 2nd in Memphis - Grizzlies 105, Clippers 98
Game 3 - May 5th, 2012, 1:30 PM, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 4 - May 7th, 2012, TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 5 - May 9th, 2012, TBD, Memphis, FedEx Forum
Game 6 - May 11th, 2012, TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center *
Game 7 - May 13th, 2012, TBD, Memphis, FedEx Forum *
* if necessary
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG Mike Conley
Randy Foye SG Tony Allen
Bobby Simmons
SF Rudy Gay
Blake Griffin
PF Zach Randolph
DeAndre Jordan
C Marc Gasol
Key reserves:
Eric Bledsoe
PG Gilbert Arenas
Mo Williams SG O.J. Mayo
Nick Young
SF Quincy Pondexter
Reggie Evans
PF Dante Cunningham
Kenyon Martin
C Marreese Speights

The Regular Season Story:

The Big Picture:

The Clippers went to Memphis and came back with the series tied at 1-1, which is a good result for the road team. The one win was a miracle comeback, while the loss was a winnable game in which the Clippers committed way too many turnovers and gave up way too many rebounds, especially on the defensive end. Call it a wash. 2-0 is nice, but 1-1 is a lot better than 0-2. The series shifts to L.A. now, and Memphis was not a particularly good road team during the regular season, going 15-18 away from home. If the battle for the fourth seed was all about having home court advantage, well the Clippers have it now in a five game series. See the Series Preview and the Game 2 Preview for more on the series. Some Game 3 specific notes are below.

The Subplots

  • Key Grizzlies Metrics (regular season):
    Pace: 90.8 (18th of 30 NBA teams)
    Off Rtg: 104.0 (19th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 101.8 (7th of 30)
  • Key Clippers Metrics (regular season):
    Pace: 89.2 (27th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.5 (4th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.7 (18th of 30)
  • Caron Butler. The Clippers lost starting small forward Caron Butler in Game 1 when he suffered a fractured metacarpal on an innocuous play in the third quarter. Butler was originally declared to be out 4-6 weeks, but the Clippers got some good news from a hand specialist on Thursday and now they are not ruling him out of Game 3. We know the guy is Tuff Juice, so sure he'll want to play. But how effective is he going to be wearing a brace to protect a broken bone in his hand? We'll see. Stranger things have happened.
  • Other injuries. Mo Williams (bruised forearm), Eric Bledsoe (bruised elbow) and Nick Young (sprained thumb) all experienced injuries that limited their availability and effectiveness in Game 2. Hopefully all three will be available for Game 3.
  • 39-18. The Grizzlies got to the free throw line 39 times in Game 2 to the Clippers 18. Whether that was some good home cooking in Memphis, or the Grizzlies being the aggressor and being rewarded, or the super moon, it needs to change.
  • 21 turnovers, 13 steals. More troubling even than the free throw numbers were the turnovers and steals from Game 2. We've said all season regarding the Grizzlies, they thrive off creating turnovers. The Clippers have NOT done well in this regard in the first two games, and in that sense are very lucky to be even in this series. Chris Paul has committed 9 turnovers in 2 games; that has to improve and I assume it will. The Grizzlies are Team Grab and Grope and on Wednesday they got away with it. Paul is going to have to adjust to all the reaching and still take care of the ball. The same goes for the entire team.
  • 16 offensive rebounds. The Grizzlies pulled down 16 offensive rebounds on Wednesday while the Clippers managed just 24 defensive rebounds. In other words, 40% of Memphis misses wound up as second chances for Memphis. That's atrocious. Once again, the Grizzlies were pushing the Clippers around, and the Clippers let them get away with it. This is a fixable problem, and it needs to be addressed or the Clippers will lose this series.
  • Pushing back. Basically, whether it was slapping them around on defense, or pushing them around under the boards, the Grizzlies pushed the Clippers around in Game 2 on Wednesday. The Clippers are going to have to do some pushing of their own to regain the upper hand.
  • Third scorer. The Clippers badly need a third scorer to step up to help Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. In the Game 1 victory it was Nick Young with 19 points. In Game 2, Mo Williams seemed to be heating up just as he was knocked out of the game with a bruised forearm. Randy Foye, who has scored just 9 total points in the two games, would be the most likely other candidate.
  • Adjustments. Lionel Hollins made the first key adjustment of the series. He shortened up his bench, going with a nine man rotation and giving Gilbert Arenas a DNP in Game 2. He also sliced Dante Cunningham's minutes from 10 to 5, making it more like an eight man rotation. Without Arenas, O.J. Mayo played point guard when Mike Conley was out of the game. Mayo also spent a lot of time defending/assaulting Paul when he was in the game and proved to be an effective defender/assailant. It would not make me angry if Del Negro tightened up his rotation a bit as well.
  • Get the Grizzlies perspective at Straight Outta Vancouver.
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