The Clippers finish up their 2010-2011 season against the Grizzlies in what should be an underwhelming affair. While the two teams have played some very close games (the 85-84 loss in Staples in December and 82-81 win with the double foul only weeks ago), the season is all wrapped up. The Grizzlies will dance again in the playoffs and the Clippers will get a head start on their vacations and practice.
The strange thing about this year, and I’ll go more into this in posts after the season, is that so few questions were answered. Big questions, like “How good is Blake?” and “Can Eric make the jump?”, were answered, but so many team-related questions remain. In the post-Dunleavy era, can the team play defense? Can Vinny get better as a coach? Can the offense run coherently? Will Sterling spend the money to get the players? How will the young players like Bledsoe and Aminu develop? How will Ryan Gomes fit into this team of youngsters and can he be an efficient starting small forward? Will Kaman stay healthy?
We might lean one way or another, but we don’t actually know what will happen. The Clippers improved slightly in the win column, they have won more games this year, and yet the question marks remain. So much work is left to be done.
Even standard, “Will the Sun come up?” type questions are unanswered. When will this next season start? What will the CBA and the contracts given out to free agents be like? There is so much uncertainty that only one immediate solution exists: watch the game, even if it’ll probably be sloppy. Enjoy Blake’s dunks live. It may be while before you see them live again.
Keys to the Game
– Energy. The Grizzlies already rested Randolph and Allen and have hinted that the core of Randolph, Allen, Conley and Gasol will rest in the final game of the regular season, which means their level of play might not be as high as one would hope. The Clippers, even without the debacle of Houston, are notorious for playing to the level of their opponents (in both the good and bad sense) and this game would be easy to fall into that trap. However, if the Clippers come out and just play hard, that might be enough to beat the resting Grizzlies.
– FREEDOM. No Tony Allen? No Mike Conley? Great. Now, Mo Williams and Eric Gordon are going to have the space to confidently run the offense.
– Go inside, Blake. Without Gasol and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies interior presence is quicker, but not nearly as formidable. If Blake wants to max out his efficiency, he would be best to try to work on the block on the smaller Darrell Arthur (6’9”, 235) and Leon Powe (a generous 6’8”, 240).
Chris Kaman: knee, game time decision
Ryan Gomes: knee, game time decision
Eric Bledsoe: left ankle (?), questionable
Rudy Gay: Left shoulder, out
Xavier Henry: right knee, out
Jason Williams: sore lower back, questionable