Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis
April 13, 2013
5:00 p.m. PST
3 Seed Western Conference Standings Check
Denver Nuggets, 54-25*
L.A. Clippers, 53-26, 1 GB
Memphis Grizzlies, 54-25, 0 GB
*Denver owns tiebreaker over Memphis after winning season series 3-1.
The time has finally come. Clips win and they’re in the driver’s seat for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Clips lose and Memphis yanks home court away from them. Because of that, this might be the biggest regular season game in Clippers history. Any chance the Clippers can sign Nick Young for the day? Now onto 3-on-3:
1. What makes Marc Gasol so darn good?
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Paella? Who knows what makes Gasol so good? He is the conductor of the Grizzlies defense, measuring the strings and punctuating the brass instruments at just the right moments. And he is a maestro of the high post, absorbing all of Gay’s less efficient possessions, acting as a conduit to the most effective shots Memphis’ offense has to offer. So he is musical, electrical and culinary. Nailed it.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): So many things. That he became unexpectedly great. That he deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year and yet that the Grizzlies run their offense best when it goes through him. That he was traded for his brother and then ended up leapfrogging his sibling in the big man power rankings. That his passing is more delicious than a spanish olive. He’s so good at every other part of the game that we don’t even acknowledge his below-average rebounding. So in conclusion, I’m a fan.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): Above anything, commitment and awareness. Gasol may not have the athletic gifts of Dwight Howard or Larry Sanders, but the man just knows where to be. It’s a commitment to positional perfection, the kind that can only be achieved through an endless study of the game.
2. What’s the most important thing the Clippers have to do on the court in Memphis?
Han: Grizzlies deficiencies aside, one of the reasons why the Clippers have success is that Memphis is a more methodically paced team; a team that can go through bouts of struggling to score. If the Clippers stay ahead or keep the game close, their offensive burst ability should, in theory, be enough to sling shot them past the Grizzlies down the stretch.
Katz: Griffin and Jordan have to hold their own against Gasol and Randolph. Z-Bo seems to have his way with Blake. Whether he’s getting in his head, frustrating him, or physically displacing him, the matchup is never comfortable for Griffin. Jordan, meanwhile, has been playing well as of the past few games. If the Clippers’ bigs can match the physicality of the Grizzlies, they stand their best chance to win.
Sohi: Dominate down low. The Clippers and Grizzlies are among league leaders in the percentage of their points that come from the paint. In the past three match ups, the squad that won the game notched up more second chance points and more points in the paint than the loser. Not to mention, the Grizzlies don’t have an adept outside game that they can rely on: they make the least amount of threes in the league.
3. Who ya got? Clips or Grizzlies?
Han: Both teams played hard fought, closely contested games on the road the night before. This game is of great significance to both teams. Both teams should play hard. And now that I’ve vamped enough to flip this coin, George Washington tells me that the Clippers win because why not.
Katz: Let’s see…We know it’s going to be ugly, because all games between these two teams are hideous. We know it’ll be physical and probably slow paced. I’ll assume that it will be close, even though the past two contests between the Griz and Clips have been blowouts. Those game characteristics favor the Griz and since it’s in Memphis, I’ll take the home team.
Sohi: The Clippers. The Grizzlies may be back at home but they had to fly in from Texas last night after a grind-it-out victory against the Rockets.