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Clippers-Grizzlies Preview: Slumping and Tired

The Clippers meet an old rival in Memphis, and see another Western Conference playoff team that is out of sorts.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture:

The Clippers continued their uninspired play with a convincing loss to a talented but inexperienced Timberwolves team last night. Aside from a quick run to end the second quarter, the Clippers were outclassed from wire to wire, with their only lead being after they made the game’s opening bucket. This time, it was the starters who really cost the team the game, falling in a quick double digit hole in the opening minutes of the game and letting a lead open up again quickly in the third. Instead of taking care of business against a team well under .500, the Clippers got blown out and saw the Jazz surprisingly win in Houston. The Clippers are now 2 games back in the loss column behind the Jazz and only 2 games up in the loss column against the next team in the standings. At least the Spurs picked up another game on the Warriors last night.

The Antagonist:

Luckily that next team also happens to be slumping, and happens to be their next opponent. The Grizzlies (and Thunder) have not been able to take advantage of the Clippers losing ways since the All-Star break and are currently mired in a 3 game losing streak, with the last loss being a particularly embarrassing loss to the lowly Nets, as the Nets came back from a double digit 4th quarter deficit. (Hey, at least our embarrassing loss to the Nets was on the road, right?) The Grit-n-Grind Griz have not been their usual defensive selves since the break, highlighted by giving up 122 and 123 in their last 2 games.

The Subplots:

  • No Defense? On the surface it would look like this would be a standard Grizzlies defense vs. Clippers offense type affair, but that might not be the case with the Grizzlies having defensive woes recently. However, they’ve been scoring at a decent clip, so there’s a chance this game might be higher scoring than the Griz/Clips of yesteryear.
  • On the Rebound: The Clippers were outrebounded 50-36 last night, and will be facing another team that ranks in the top ten in offensive rebounding. The bigs will have to be more focused on boxing out and getting good position tonight, especially since those tired legs will be wearing on them as the game goes on considering the heavy workload over the past week.
  • Hugs and Kisses: In what turned out to be an awful loss to the Nets, Coach David Fizdale benched Tony Allen and JaMychal Green for Andrew Harrison and Brandan Wright. Fizdale responded to the media questioning his lineup shuffling with a choice selection of words. He said, “I'll continue to shuffle until I find something that works best to give us the best chance to hold the trophy. If people don't like it, they can kiss my ass." Well, then. We’ll see who’s starting this game for the Grizzlies.
  • Stretching Out DeAndre: Marc Gasol is one of the most skilled bigs in the league, and in a very exciting game in the midst of the Clippers blistering 14-2 start, Gasol punctuated a trend of teams trying to stretch out DeAndre Jordan outside of the paint with a game-winning three in Los Angeles, followed by some questionable dance moves. Karl-Anthony Towns hit quite a few perimeter shots last night against Jordan, so Gasol will try to do the same to pull DJ from guarding the rim. Gasol hasn’t been particularly sharp from three recently, but is still hitting a solid 39% from there for the season.
  • Staggering along: After success against the Celtics with a DeAndre/bench lineup, Doc Rivers brought Jordan off the bench a little sooner than the starters in the 2nd/4th quarters against the Wolves. While the Clippers weren’t particularly successful with anything yesterday, it’s something I hope creeps earlier and earlier for DJ, as Marreese Speights with the starters to close the first and DeAndre with the bench unit to start the second makes too much sense not to try if Doc is so insistent on keeping Paul/Griffin together during most of their minutes.
  • I’m So Tired: The Clippers are playing their 5th game in 7 days, finishing off a stretch that frankly should not exist. The Grizzlies have had the last 2 days off. The Grizzlies played a SEGABABA against the Clippers back on January 4th, when they very surprisingly lost to a Clipper team without Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, so maybe this is a bit of scheduling karma.
  • Connections: Not much really. Zach Randolph of course was a former Clipper that was traded to make room for Blake Griffin. Really I brought this up because watching this video still makes me happy and will probably make you happy.
  • Music in Memphis: Justin Timberlake is a minority owner of the Grizzlies and a guilty pleasure of mine. Well honestly I don’t feel guilty at all about it, you should probably just enjoy a good slice of pop music once in a while. This is a deeper cut off 2013’s the 20/20 Experience. It’s different than the singles you’ve heard. Go on.