The Memphis Grizzlies have had a good run. Like, a really good run. They're one of only three teams with a longer active streak of consecutive seasons making the playoffs than the Clippers have (San Antonio and Atlanta are the leaders in this category). They made one run to the Western Conference Finals back in 2013 and boast a few second-round appearances as well, pretty solid considering their small-market stature and lack of superstar talent.
But this might be the end of the road for Memphis — Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are both done with season-ending injuries, and Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are pushing 35. The renowned Grit'n'Grind era might be drawing to a close in Memphis, and their front office will have a number of tough decisions to make this summer.
In the meantime, they've somehow managed to hold on and clinch one last playoff berth, despite dressing almost thirty different players throughout the course of the season. For a while, it seemed as if we'd get that Clippers-Grizzlies rubber match that we've been close to seeing the last two postseasons. Then, it seemed like we'd be getting Thunder-Grizzlies Round IV, but with the Mavericks surging Memphis will have to win one or both of their last two games to avoid another rubber match... with the Spurs. That's no easy task, considering they've got a SEGABABA tomorrow in Oracle against a Warriors team going for 73.
The Clippers are at full health tonight for what will probably be the core's final appearance of the regular season (though it's possible that Blake Griffin may play tomorrow night in Phoenix). Even though the Grizzlies are the third West playoff contender the Clips are playing in a row, they've shown no desire to play the standings game and try to angle their opponents into the most favorable matchups. That sort of gamesmanship isn't really something Doc Rivers does either — his philosophy falls more into the realm of focusing on yourself first and trying to be the best that you can be.
Revenge of the Grizz-ippers: The Grizzlies almost have a full lineup of Clippers castoffs (after recently releasing Ryan Hollins for what seems to be the umpteenth time this season). The most recent addition to that crew is suspected chemistry ruiner Jordan Farmar, who lasted half a season in Los Angeles. Of course, this will also be the Lance Stephenson return game, and you can count on Matt Barnes to bring it against his old team too. Clippers-Grizzlies hasn't seen too much animosity recently, let's see if any of the old fire resurfaces tonight.
Prediction: Clippers 110, Grizzlies 95 — this Memphis team is barely a shade of its former self, and they'll be hard-pressed to keep pace with the Clippers, even though the game is all but meaningless for the latter. Lance will entertain, but he'll save the real fireworks for tomorrow in Oakland.