Yup, there's only two games on the docket tonight, which means after the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic bat each other around, the nightcap features our Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles for their first meeting with the new and Chris Paul'd Clippers.
The Grizz got a much-needed day of rest, or simply travel -- which is about as good as a team can get this season -- yesterday, while the Clippers had to deal with that other team they share a gym with. For the first time in about a week, Memphis feels like the more-rested squad going into this one. Plus, they're coming off an ugly, if understandable, showing in Portland on Tuesday night; it wouldn't seem likely for the number of Grizzlies who had off-nights against the Blazers to slump together again, right?
We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention that this is the Grizzlies' last stint on the NBA's showcase Thursday night TNT stage this season. Their only other stop with Charles, Kenny, E.J., and Shaq a few weeks back went rather well when the New York Knicks visited Memphis. So, not that that really means anything towards tonight, but it's always good for a team like the Grizz, who don't get many of these national TV opportunities, to put their best foot, er, feet, forward when much of the NBA community will be watching. One would imagine this is not lost on the Grizzlies' roster, either.
As for the game itself, it will be important for the Grizzlies to limit the Clippers' chances in open space, where, of course, Paul's mastery with the ball in his hands can turn quickly into dunks and easy baskets for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Los Angeles is more athletic than most teams in this league, but the Grizzlies' cohesion is key to controlling the pace of the game, making the Clips run as much half-court offense as possible and forcing them to execute defensively. And again, the Grizzlies' starters will need to get back to themselves as well; it would be surprising to not see an uptick across the board from the first unit.
The Grizzlies were anything but sharp in Portland Tuesday night, but another streak needs to begin as soon as possible. The road will get tougher next week as playoff teams and title contenders from both conferences fill up the schedule, and tonight won't be any easier against a clearly explosive Clippers team. Memphis's last TNT showing of the regular season should be a fun one, so enjoy it. A win tonight, a solid episode of Inside the NBA, and your weekend's suddenly looking a lot brighter, isn't it?
For more on the Clippers of Los Angeles, do visit our friends at Clips Nation.