The playoff picture in the Western Conference is a mad dash right to the finish line, and both the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers are in the thick of it. A Clippers win over the Grizzlies tonight would set both teams to a 54-26 record, same as the San Antonio Spurs and a half-game ahead of the Houston Rockets (neither of those teams playing tonight).
The Grizzlies will have to stake their keep on the second seed without the help of a healthy Mike Conley, who didn't play in last night's win over the Utah Jazz. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Conley is in a walking boot and a doctor has recommended he sit out until the playoffs. Conley, however, isn't big on the idea:
"I don't want to shut down. I'd like to be playing and in a rhythm going into the playoffs as opposed to sitting," Conley said. "But I've a had a bad little stretch with injuries. I don't know what the smart thing to do is but I'm going to do the right thing for myself and the team."
It's a particularly poor matchup to be missing Conley and defensive janitor Tony Allen (missed his sixth game in a row last night due to a strained hamstring, could return Wednesday) for. The Clippers have won ten of their last 11 games, and in those 11 games, Chris Paul leads the team in per-game points (23.4), assists (11.8) and steals (2.2). His True Shooting Percentage of 68.9% is second on the team only to J.J. Redick, who has hit home on 40 of 75 three-point attempts in that timespan as a regular recipient of Paul's passing.
Absent two of their better defenders, the Grizzlies defense will be tasked with taking on a Clippers offense that leads the league in offensive efficiency (110.0 points scored per 100 possessions). It stands as a tall task, especially on the second half of a road back-to-back set against an opponent that hasn't played since Tuesday.
But Memphis has won four of their last five, and with playoff seeding on the line tonight against a fellow West contender, extending their recent hot streak through the last three games of the season could net the Grizzlies safer passage through the gauntlet of the West playoffs.
|2014-15 NBA Season
54-25 (24-15 away)
53-26 (28-11 home)
|April 11th, 2015
|Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA|
|9:00 PM CDT|
|Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN / NBA TV
|Injury report: Jeff Green (questionable; back), Mike Conley (doubtful; foot), Tony Allen (out; hamstring)|
|Beno Udrih||PG||Chris Paul|
|Courtney Lee||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Blake Griffin|
|Marc Gasol||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|2014/15 Advanced Stats|
|94.18 (26th)||Pace||96.95 (10th)|
|103.1 (13th)||ORtg||110.0 (1st)|
|99.8 (4th)||DRtg||103.0 (15th)|