WHEN: 7 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, knee soreness/rest)
L.A. CLIPPERS- None
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP-
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, James Ennis, Brandan Wright, Marc Gasol
L.A. CLIPPERS- Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Want to wake up the Memphis Grizzlies?
Want to shake them from the late season malaise that has befallen them?
Tonight’s a big night.
Don’t look now, but the Utah Jazz currently have a four-game advantage over Memphis for that coveted four seed that Head Coach David Fizdale has said the Grizzlies want so badly. And the Clippers, those hated Clippers, are 2.5 games behind the Jazz and 2 games in front of Memphis for the five seed that guarantees avoiding the Spurs or Rockets in a tough first round match-up. The Clippers played (and lost) in Minnesota last night, are on the second game of a back to back, and are playing their third game in four nights.
L.A. is 6-7 in games with zero nights rest. The Grizzlies are rested and have all the reasons in the world to want to beat the Clippers tonight. While the Nets loss stung, a failure tonight would almost certainly guarantee Memphis at best the sixth seed, barring some catastrophic event happening for the Jazz or Clippers.
Tonight’s a big night. Here’s how to make sure it’s a good one in Memphis.
Fight CP3 to at least a draw
Chris Paul has had health issues this season, but when he has played he’s been simply tremendous for the Clippers. According to basketball-reference.com, Paul has a .262 win shares per 48 minutes. That is a massive number - for comparison’s sake, Marc Gasol’s is .159 and Mike Conley’s is .205. Two players having very good seasons who are not anywhere near Chris Paul’s impact on the game.
When Paul is in and thriving, the Clippers can beat just about anyone. When he is not able to be such a force, the Clippers are actually quite pedestrian. With CP3, the Clippers are 30-13. Without him? 8-13. If Conley can somehow play even with Paul (as he has done in the past), the Grizzlies have a chance. Thankfully Mike has played really well since the All-Star break - it will have to continue tonight for Memphis to win.
Veterans gotta vet
The last times these two teams met in L.A., Zach Randolph and Vince Carter combined for 30 points on 12-23 shooting from the field. Those two players almost matched the scoring output of the full Clippers bench - L.A. got 32 points from their reserves on that night. Memphis needs more from their bench guys, of course - Zach and Vince cannot do it by themselves - but the Grizzlies reserves go as far as Z-Bo and Vinsanity take them. Tonight will be no different.
Bench scoring and the Conley/Paul showdown aside, tonight’s game in a lot of ways comes down to pride for Memphis. There are plenty of things going for the Grizzlies that make this game winnable - playing a likely tired Clippers squad, motivation to end the losing streak, the list goes on and on. But none of that matters if Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and their teammates don’t play the game fundamentally sound. It starts defensively, communicating rotations and moving laterally. It continues with completing passes and finishing shots and sets. The Clippers have been more talented than the Grizzlies for years now, but what makes this a competitive rivalry is the physicality of Memphis.
That aggression has to be accompanied by energy and passion. Memphis has been lifeless for too long. It’s time for 18,119 at FedExForum and their Grizzlies to fight and attack the game.
The Clippers are a great team to get that energy back against.
Memphis 111, L.A. Clippers 106