Sometimes ugly is beautiful. Griffin couldn’t find ways to score, but he finally took part in doing all the little things that have led to success in this series for his less-talented backups. Whether it was contesting every shot, wrestling Zach Randolph for position or flying to the offensive glass, there was rarely a scrum Griffin wasn’t involved in. Heart was Griffin’s biggest asset in this game.
You can push Paul around, but he’s going to push back. Although he didn’t have the airspace to exercise his usual brand of control, Paul fought back on the other end with some great defense and help on the defensive boards, where the Clippers truly needed all hands on deck. Paul’s tough, contested pull-up jumpers kept the Clippers afloat long enough for the bench to sink the Grizzlies.
This is exactly why the Clippers got him. Martin was the best defender in a game defined by defense. Marc Gasol gave the Clippers lots of trouble during this series, but Martin’s ability to cover him or any other member of the Grizzlies’ frontcourt and lock them up stunted the Grizzlies’ offensive plan. Just as you’d expect, Martin didn’t back down from anything.
This was one of the most physical playoff games since the early ’90s, so maybe it’s fitting that the Clippers’ rough-and-tumble bench would again steal the spotlight. It may sound cliché, but this game truly did come down to who wanted it more, as execution flew out of the window in favor of effort. The Clippers have their flaws, but they fought through them to move on to the next round.
This was everything the Grizzlies wanted — a physical game on their court fought primarily in the paint. They forced turnovers, they defended incredibly well and they eliminated the scoring of Blake Griffin almost entirely. All they needed was someone to make a few shots from the perimeter, or someone to carry the offense through their fourth-quarter drought. For all their strengths, the Grizzlies just didn’t have that in Game 7.