WHERE: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
WHEN: 2:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Ben McLemore (Out, Right Foot), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Quad), JaMychal Green (Out, Left Ankle), Mike Conley (Questionable, Achilles), Marc Gasol (Questionable, Ankle)
LOS ANGELES- Milos Teodosic (Out, Left Foot)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, James Ennis III, Jarell Martin, Marc Gasol
LOS ANGELES- Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
The Grizzlies start their three-game West Coast trip (five-game road trip) Saturday in an early tipoff against Clippers. Memphis is looking to stop their current two-game losing streak with a win over the current top team in the Western Conference. With question marks on the starting roster, the Grizzlies will need to dig deep to beat this big rival.
The Clippers have a completely new look this season, bringing in many new faces after trading away Chris Paul. Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley are combined with Austin Rivers to add a new look to this backcourt which always featured Paul. Danilo Gallinari is also among the additions to this starting five.
The battle between these two teams is always a treat. Even with some new players on both sides, Coach Doc Rivers and David Fizdale always get the most out of their teams. The fight in the paint will (hopefully) include Marc Gasol still banging bodies down low with Blake and DeAndre. With a 12:30 PT start, this game may take a bit to get going, but once they find their grooves, it will be another must-see matchup.
Here are three things to note before today’s game:
Controlling the Clippers Frontcourt
As we have seen for years now, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have been staples for this Clippers frontcourt. This year Blake has found an intimidating three-point shot which has extended him a bit further from the paint. However, the threat is still there for them to dominate the game down low. The best thing for the Grizzlies is that they have an elite big of their own.
Marc Gasol will have to be on his game Saturday to deter both Blake and DeAndre from attacking the paint. Gasol is averaging 20.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season. He has somehow taken it up to the next level yet again. We will see how he looks in this crucial matchup.
Getting the Bench Going
Because of the Grizzlies starting lineup, the bench has been critical to whether the team wins or loses. However, calling Dillon Brooks and Tyreke Evans bench players feels odd because they are third and fifth in minutes per game, respectively. Either way, they are the pulse of the team in their respective roles. Obviously, Mike and Marc dictate and control the game, but they can’t do it all. Brooks, Evans, and Chalmers all need to contribute significantly to take down this deep Clippers team.
Helping Mike Conley
As much as Grizzlies fans do not like to admit it, Patrick Beverley is one of the best, hard-nosed defenders in the league. He defends like he is playing at 120% at all times. This may be a hard matchup for Mike Conley, especially nursing an injury. Conley is an elite point guard, but Beverly will do everything in his power to shut him down.
This means contributions from other guards will be imperative. Players like Tyreke Evans will need to step up and match his Orlando performance. Evans has been the real deal this season. His production has been one of the most important additions to this team. The burden will be shifted to others on the team to step up if Mike Conley is hobbled or slowed by Beverly.
My prediction is that the Grizzlies pull one out at the Staples Center. (This, of course, depends on Mike and Marc playing). Memphis has played with a completely different mindset against the playoffs teams in the West, and they are undefeated against them. I see this continuing Saturday with the Clippers.
The Grizzlies have not played since Wednesday, so most of the team should be rested especially including the two question marks being the best two players. Also, this extra time off will be better to ease them into this early weekend game. As we have seen in the past, Los Angeles is a city that sometimes has a special effect on some teams.
Homecourt advantage will not be as prominent either because of this early game. It will help the Grizzlies find their footing early on. This just feels like a Grizzlies win.
Spread: N/A. Because of the injuries to Gasol and Conley, the lines are not set until the starting lineups are announced. However, I would bet the Grizzlies Moneyline whatever it ends up being. I would assume the Clippers would be favorite, but I just feel something about this game. Get Rich People.
Memphis- 102, Los Angeles- 93