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Grizzlies at Clippers preview: Seeding on the line as Memphis faces streaking Los Angeles

A Grizzlies loss tonight to the Clippers would set both teams to a 54-26 record – same as the San Antonio Spurs.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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."

via Memphis Commercial Appeal

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)
Projected Starters
Beno Udrih PG Chris Paul
Courtney Lee SG J.J. Redick
Jeff Green SF Matt Barnes
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)