Clippers Take Game 1 Against Memphis
There's no question about it: the Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies first round playoff series will be the meat tenderizer series of the playoffs. In Game 1 things looked like a set of a gay porn shoot with the sweaty bodies collapsing all over the floor, limbs hanging on limbs. Last season the Clippers overcame a 27 point deficit in the second half to steal Game 1 in Memphis en route to a Game 7 win of the series.
The Clippers managed to win the season series against the Grizz three games to one which is surprising on the surface. The Clippers are the flash and sizzle team, the team nicknamed "Lob City" whose highwire act has made their games exciting to watch. The Grizzlies are the rumble and tumble team whose more than happy to grind games out with nothing flashy. Pure hard defense is the name of the game for the Grizzlies, and isn't that what wins championships in the end?
One thing that is overlooked for the Clippers is that they are pretty good defensively. There is a reason the Clippers took three of the four games this season. So what really changes in the playoffs?
It turned out nothing did change in this first game as the Clippers led wire-to-wire in their 112-91 victory. The Clippers didn't blink at the face of the Grizzlies defensive effort. Head coach Vinny Del Negro did not shorten his bench which is why his team had the legs to score 37 points in the fourth quarter.
It was actually quite brilliant. Knowing the Grizzlies forte is their front court of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the Clippers decided to play an inside-out game. Once the ball got into the paint, the Grizzlies collapses. That's why Blake Griffin only had six points through three quarters and 10 before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan only had three points scoring all of those in the fourth.
Time after time, the ball was kicked out to wide open jump shooters who were able to knock down their shots. The Clippers shot 55% for the game which is almost unheard of against the Grizzlies.
And that's the problem the Grizzlies have. Sure Randolph and Gasol can be overpowering in the paint. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan proved they can be just as physical even though the scoresheet shows them as having subpar games.
But who on Memphis' team will make that crucial jumper? Mike Conley? Jerryd Bayless? Tony Allen?
Looking at the scoring sheet for the guards:
Mike Conley - 12 points.
Tony Allen - 8 points.
Jerryd Bayless - 19 points.
Tony Wroten - 4 points.
Keyon Dooling - 6 points.
Chauncey Billups - 14 points.
Chris Paul - 21 points.
Eric Bledsoe - 15 points.
Jamal Crawford - 13 points.
And that doesn't account for Matt Barnes' 10 points and Caron Butler's 13.
If the Grizzlies were to have won tonight, they needed to be better than outscoring the Clippers inside the paint 48-46. The Clippers outrebounded Memphis 47-23 which showed since the Clippers outscored the Grizzlies in second chance points 25-5.
"It's just one of those games," Del Negro said after the game. "We're just fortunate the ball bounced our way tonight."
The Clippers had their way all night long. But I always repeat the mantra at this time of the year. "It isn't a series until the home team loses." The Clippers did what they needed to tonight. It's not time to celebrate since they will have to replicate the effort Monday night.