L.A. Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
March 13, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
It’s hot vs. hotter. The Clips have won 10 of 13 and are rolling. The Grizzlies have come out victorious in 13 of their past 14 and look dominant since trading Rudy Gay. These Clippers-Grizzlies matchups almost don’t feel right without Swaggy P and Reggie Evans, but I guess we have to play them anyway. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. Can we officially declare the Grizzlies winners in the Rudy Gay trade?
Jeremy Conlin, (@jeremy_conlin): I would have declared them the winners the morning after, but I’ve never been a big fan of Rudy Gay. Common perception might not say that Gay is an “addition by subtraction” candidate, but the reality is that the shots he creates are generally low-efficiency shots, and that’s ultimately not that hard to replace.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): I’m inclined to wait a tic before deciding who wins a trade. (It initially seemed like the Lakers had robbed Memphis blind in acquiring Pau Gasol, but Marc is clearly a better value in 2013.) Still, Memphis probably wins this trade. Call it a victory for analytics, which makes sense, given their other high-profile acquisition: Hollinger.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): I declared the trade a win for the Grizz seconds after Woj tweeted it out. A trade seen as primarily a salary dump has actually had profoundly positive effects on Memphis. Without Gay, they’ve scored at a rate that would rank 8th over the entire season.
2. Where does Memphis rank among the best defensive teams in the NBA?
Conlin: That depends on whether the officials decide to call Defensive Three Second violations or not. If they aren’t, and Roy Hibbert is allowed to set up a hammock under the basket, the Indiana defense holds that crown. Otherwise, however, Memphis is right there. They’re able to pressure the ball aggressively on the perimeter knowing that Marc Gasol is behind them to cover up their mistakes.
James: They’re definitely the scariest defensive team. Sure, they’ve got the second best defensive rating (99.9), and since the All-Star break they’ve held teams to a frigid 42 percent on field goals, but the fear factor is the idea of a seven-game series: even if you win, you might be so bruised and battered that you’re ruined for the next round.
Frankel: They’re undoubtedly top three and are in an exclusive club of teams who can take over a game with defense. The lack of a rock of the bench (a la Taj Gibson or Ian Mahinmi) hurts their case for the number one spot, however.
3. Over/under 20 points for Blake Griffin against the burly Memphis bigs?
Conlin: I would hazard a guess at under, but I’m not certain that’s a bad thing – the way to beat the Memphis defense is to swing the ball around the perimeter to (hopefully) take advantage of their gambling tendencies and end up with corner threes. If Griffin can find the open guys when he’s isolated at the elbow, that might be a better alternative than trying to attack the basket through Marc Gasol.
James: Under. Zach Randolph knows how to frustrate Blake Griffin — in two games this year, Griffin has 21 total points. The good news is that the Clippers have won both those games, in part because those low-post battles are a two-way street: for all Randolph’s hustle and defense, he’s shot a combined 10-31 against L.A.
Frankel: It’s tough to say without knowing how Memphis will matchup. Will they put their better defender, but also the hub of their defense, Marc Gasol, on Griffin or the slower footed Zach Randolph? I’ll take the under just because Griffin scores under 20 a game anyway and this probable slugfest won’t be the environment for a breakout scoring game.