In advance of our now annual first round playoff meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies, Kevin Lipe of SBNation's Grizzlies blog, Grizzly Bear Blues (that's the newly re-christened Straight Outta Vancouver for you OG types) and I exchanged some questions and answers.
Here are his answers to my questions. Head on over to GBB to read my answers to his questions. We're hoping to do a follow up after Game 2 when the series heads to Memphis, so if you have a question you'd like me to ask, let me know in the comments.
Steve Perrin: What worries you most about having to face the Clippers again in the first round?
Kevin Lipe: The fact that the Grizzlies play like crap against the Clippers. The Clippers, along with the Nuggets, are really one of the only teams that creates problems for Memphis in terms of keeping the Grizzlies from being able to play the way they want to play. The Grizzlies thrive on interior passing and very small windows of floor spacing, and the Clips are able to blow that stuff up at will. It doesn't help that the Clips seem to fare better than the Grizzlies in 50/50 ball situations, too.
SP: I keep hearing that a healthy Randolph could be the difference from for Memphis from last year's series, but based on what I saw in the regular season, the Grizz need less Z-Bo not more Z-Bo against the Clippers. What you need is more Gasol. Am I wrong?
KL: You're both wrong and not wrong. The Grizzlies need more Z-Bo in that they need to be able to depend on Zach Randolph to get a bucket when the play has broken down and the shot clock is starting to run out. They need more Gasol in that they need him to be a more aggressive scorer, instead of just focusing on distributing the way he usually does. We all know how good he is on defense, and we know how good of a passer he is, but if he finds himself open anywhere near the elbow, in this series, he should probably shoot instead of looking to pass.
SP: Jerryd Bayless? I know that doesn't seem like a question, but it is. Try it like this. Really? Jerryd Bayless? Really? The box scores have looked awfully good for him since the All Star Break, but color me unconvinced. You may try to convince me if you like.
KL: Jerryd Bayless: really. Not the most consistent guy in the world, and much happier as a shooting guard than as the primary ball handler, but he's been much more solid for the Grizzlies this year than O.J. Mayo was last year. He's definitely playing well to wrap up the season, and his outside shot has progressively gotten better as the year goes on.
SP: Why do you suppose Zach hates Blake so much? He should be happy -- Blake is the reason that Zach got traded to Memphis where he's had by far his most successful run.
KL: You know, I don't even think Z-Bo really hates Blake that much. I think he's trying to do whatever he can to get in Blake's head, and trying to establish to Blake that he (Zach) is better than Griffin. It's like they go into these games out to prove who is tougher, and, well, that's a battle that Z-Bo probably won't lose. If they really hated each other, I don't think Zach would talk about how he likes to play Griffin. I think Zach gets frustrated when Blake gets the best of him, and neither one of those guys is going to get a foul called on them when they're both clobbering each other (and, yes, I'm aware of who's doing more than half of the clobbering). But I don't think he really hates Griffin. Z-Bo plays Tough Guy basketball, and Blake is one of the few guys in the league who is able to stand up to him and turn it into a slugfest.
SP: I don't think an official stat is available for defensive assignments, but another thing I keep seeing as a key to the series is Tony Allen on Chris Paul. Check me if I'm wrong, but won't Mike Conley be defending Paul most of the series, as he did last year and during the regular season?
KL: I think Allen will be on Paul when Jamal Crawford isn't in the game, because when Crawford isn't in the game, Conley can handle whoever is playing the 2. Generally, when Allen plays more minutes, the Grizzlies play better. Last season, we saw a lot of Quincy Pondexter when we should've seen a lot of Tony Allen. I don't think Lionel Hollins will use the same lineup strategies he did last year; this year's Griz bench is clearly upgraded.
SP: What's your prediction for the outcome of the series?
KL: Grizzlies in 7. I think the two teams split the first two games, and then I think they split the two games in Memphis, and then I just have to hope the Grizzlies can get some redemption for losing a home game 7 last year. But, honestly? I think it's 50/50. I wouldn't be surprised if either team advances, which is why I really wanted the Grizzlies to get to that third seed spot. Alas, that didn't happen, and here we are, playing a series where either team could easily get sent packing in the first round.
Thanks so much to Kevin for his great answers. You know, the Clippers and Grizzlies don't much like each other, but that's no reason that Clips Nation and Grizzly Bear Blues have to be adversarial. These guys know the enemy better than anyone -- you should head over there to get educated on the Grizz, but if you do, be a good guest. Likewise, when they're here at CN, be a good host.