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Clippers-Grizzlies Preview: A Fight to the Finish

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With the 2-seed still in play, the Los Angeles Clippers host the much despised, but always dangerous, Memphis Grizzlies for a game with major playoff implications.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

2014/2015 NBA Regular Season
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53-26

54-25
April 11th, 2015, 7:00 PM
STAPLES Center
NBA TV, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
19-11 East 19-10
34-15 West 35-15
28-11 Home 30-10
25-15 Road 24-15
17-21 .500+ 22-17
36-5 .500- 32-8
9-1 L10 6-4
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Mike Conley (?)
J.J. Redick SG Courtney Lee
Matt Barnes SF Jeff Green
Spencer Hawes PF Zach Randolph
DeAndre Jordan C Marc Gasol
Advanced Stats
96.95 (11th of 30) Pace 94.18 (26th of 30)
110.0 (1st of 30) ORtg 103.1 (13th of 30)
103.0 (16th of 30) DRtg 99.8 (4th of 30)
Injuries/Other


Mike Conley (foot) Day-to-day


Tony Allen (hamstring) OUT

The Back Story (The Grizzlies lead the season series, 2-0).

Date Venue Final Recap Box
11/23/14 FedEx Grizzlies 107, Clippers 91 Recap Box
02/23/15 STAPLES Grizzlies 90, Clippers 87 Recap Box
02/27/15 FedEx Clippers 97, Grizzlies 79 Recap Box
04/11/15 STAPLES Tonight

The Big Picture:

It doesn't get much bigger than this in the regular season. The Western Conference is experiencing a Three Stooges like doorjam between the 2nd and 6th seeds and the Clippers are caught right in the middle of it. Luckily, things seem to be coming together at the right time for the Clippers. They are currently one of the hottest teams in the NBA, winning 9 of their last ten, the lone loss was to the league-leading Warriors. The Clippers do not hold their own destiny, they will need some other teams to lose in order to get the 2nd or 3rd seed. Luckily enough, one of those teams happens to be Memphis. The Clippers can seriously help their post-season positioning by putting away their bitter rivals tonight, in what qualifies as perhaps the biggest game of the season for both teams.

The Antagonist:

The Grizzlies have been sputtering to a finish and appear to be limping towards a first round exit. However, don't put it past a bear to play possum. Whether wounded or not, these Grizzlies always pose a threat. The window is closing in Memphis and the players know it. They aren't likely to go out with a whimper, the Clippers should expect physical (read: dirty) play from the Midwestern mugs. Sure the Grizzlies played last night, at altitude and barely pulled out a win against a spunky Utah Jazz squad, but the Grizz haven't let the second night of a back-to-back stop them from beating the Clippers before. No doubt they are confident they can do it again.

Memphis is also struggling with key injuries at the moment. Tony Allen is out with a hamstring injury (and will miss Monday night's game in Golden State, another game which could have major playoff repercussions for the Clippers), and Mike Conley is struggling with an ankle injury causing him to sit out last night in Utah. It's unclear whether he will play tonight.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of key metrics. As to be expected, the Clippers are the tops of the league when it comes to offensive rating and the Grizzlies are close to the top in defensive rating. There aren't any surprises when you further examine the metrics. The Grizzlies are close to dead last in pace while the Clips are near the upper third. The Grizzlies posses a middling offensive rating while the Clippers hold a mediocre defensive rating.
  • The standings. Going into tonight's game, the Grizzlies are in 2nd, the Spurs 3rd, Portland 4th, Clippers 5th and Rockets 6th. That said, the Grizzlies, Spurs, Clippers and Rockets are all separated by a mere game. A win tonight and the Clippers are tied with Memphis. The Spurs and Rockets are off tonight so the only real movement will be a result of the Clips-Grizz match-up. Portland is playing, but do to division rules, they are basically cemented in the 4 spot going forward. The main goal right now is avoiding a first round match-up with the Spurs. Being that San Antonio is likely to win out the rest of the way, the best way for the Clippers to escape that match-up is to win out and end with a 3rd or 4th seed. Future survival could very well depend on a win tonight.
  • JCrossover. Jamal didn't look great in his first game back. Of course, that is to be expected after such a long layoff. If he looks bad again tonight, that still isn't reason to worry. It would be best to look for steady improvement. If Crawford can score double digits with a respectable shooting percentage, then it would be reason to smile. If he ends up going off for 20-plus, that would be a huge boost for the Clippers heading into postseason play.
  • The Spencer Hawes situation. This is why Doc signed Hawes, he was supposed to be the big man to help overcome the bullying style of the Grizzlies. Able to draw a defender away from the lane to clear room for Blake and/or DJ. Instead he has been a disappointment. Recently, he has barely been registering minutes and it is becoming clear the Big Baby will be the first big off the bench in the playoffs. If there is any chance that might not be the case, we will see it tonight. If Hawes is able to be productive in any significant span of play, it could mean he has a role going forward.
  • The 15th man. With three games left before post-season play, Doc has one more roster spot to fill. After giving Nate Robinson back-to-back 10-day deals, rather than sign the diminutive point guard for the remainder of the season, Doc opted to give an 10-day to Lester Hudson, who was coming off back-to-back MVP seasons in China, but he saw little playing time and walked at the end of his contract. Rumor has it the Clippers will be bringing little Nate back for the post-season, so long as he knee checks out with doctors.
  • Connections. Zach Randolph played the second half of the 2008-2009 season with the Clippers before being traded to make way for Blake... Recent bench addition Dahntay Jones played his first four professional seasons with the Grizzlies... Grizzies' guard Courtney Lee played his rookie season with Hedo Turkoglu and J.J. Redick on the Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic... Both Tony Allen and Jeff Green played in Boston for then Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers -- Glen Davis was on some of those teams, as well... Rookie Grizzly guard Jordan Adams played two years at UCLA... JaMychal Green, playing for Memphis on a second 10-day contract, played for the Clippers during the 2013 summer league, signed with the team that September, but was cut a few days later.
  • Wikipedia entry. Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary film by German director Werner Herzog. It chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. The film consists of Treadwell's own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears before he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and eaten by a bear in 2003, and of interviews with people who knew or were involved with Treadwell. The footage he shot was later found, and the final film was co-produced by Discovery Docs, the Discovery Channel's theatrical documentary unit, and Lions Gate Entertainment. The film's soundtrack is by British singer songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson.