For the first time since last year's Game 7, the Clippers and Grizzlies play in Memphis tonight. Without Rudy Gay and Quincy Pondexter, will the Grizzlies be able to grind out a win?
I still hate the freaking Clippers. I will never stop hating the freaking Clippers. Every time I see Chris Paul’s face and Blake Griffin’s (admittedly hilarious) commercials for Kia, I feel a little tense ball of seething rage in the pit of my stomach. A visceral reaction. I cannot stand the Los Angeles Clippers.
I mean, I don’t even want to talk about why. I don’t want to talk about why I hate Chris Paul’s guts. He’s good at basketball — great at basketball — but I absolutely hate his demeanor. I hate Blake Griffin’s guts. He, of course, is also really good at basketball, and he’s an athletic specimen, a freak of nature barely contained in a red and blue uniform. But I’m sitting at my desk typing this preview and I can feel my blood pressure rising.
I hate the Clippers.
Tonight is the first time the Clippers and Grizzlies have played in Memphis since Game 7 of the first round last year. In that game, Mike Conley had the flu and Zach Randolph was 75% back from injury, and O.J. Mayo played backup point guard like a dumpster fire with missing fingers. It was atrocious.
And let’s not pretend that coach Lionel Hollins was blameless, either. He never seemed to be able to find a lineup that worked for long stretches against L.A., and when he found one that was able to make progress, he was far too quick to go back to his starters — and to Rudy Gay and to O.J. Mayo, neither of whom played well. (In the same sense that the Titanic didn’t float well.)
Tonight’s game is going to be a tough one for the Grizzlies. It was going to be tough anyway, but then news broke yesterday that Rudy Gay was going to miss the game to attend the funeral of his grandmother. Obviously we here at SOV and any other Grizzlies fan with half a brain can’t possibly be upset with Rudy for missing the game tonight. Family always comes first. But it’s undeniable that his absence means the Grizzlies are starting out at a disadvantage.
Compounding that disadvantage is the fact that Quincy Pondexter is still out with an MCL sprain. The last time Rudy missed a game, QPon started in his place and played well (or, at least, played well until Dorrell Wright torched the Grizzlies in their loss to the 76ers). No such luck this time. That means that Tony Allen is probably going to have to start playing out of position at the 3 spot, and Wayne Ellington will probably start at shooting guard.
Which is not a good way to keep the Clippers from doing Clipper things and smiling and joking around and being ostentatious as they beat teams. Which isn’t something you want to do on the Grizzlies team. The last time these two teams played each other, this happened:
These guys don’t like each other. No two ways about it. The Grizzlies are going to want to settle old scores tonight, but I don’t know whether they can without an actual small forward to play. Seems like most basketball teams have a small forward. It’s going to take an insane effort from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph tonight — and DeAndre Jordan is exactly the type of athletic big man that gives Gasol all kinds of fits. Z-Bo, I’m less worried about, because Z-Bo has always seemed to take pleasure into getting into Griffin’s head. Some day these two guys are going to have a fistfight and be suspended for a while. With any luck, tonight will not be that night.
Tickets: Memphis Grizzlies tickets
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