Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
Game 3, Clippers lead series 2-0
April 25, 2013
6:30 p.m. PST
Doesn’t it feel like the Clippers are teasing the Grizzlies at this point? Game 2 was almost the anti-Nick Young game. Clippers have a large fourth-quarter lead; Memphis comes back to tie it in the final seconds. That should imply that the Grizzlies came away with a win, but nope. The Clips teased them into a tie only to bully the victory away in the final seconds once again – this time with a Chris Paul game winner. The Clips have now stolen Memphis’ lunch money in 11 of their past 16 meetings dating back to last year. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. True or false: Zach Randolph will return to regular Z-Bo form in Memphis.
Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves, (@steventurous): True. The playoffs have a way of amplifying everything about home court advantage, and Randolph’s regular season stats showed a fairly clear divide between playing at home and on the road. According to NBA.com, on the road he was more a 14-10 guy than a 16-12 guy, which is pretty big. He just needs some Memphis dry rub and he’ll be fine.
Andrew Lynch, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@AndrewLynch): False. Z-Bo will likely be better at home; he has been all season. But expecting him to return to the Zeebo of old is probably counting on too much in this series.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): False. Z-Bo looks totally banged up and with the physicality with which the Clippers are playing him, he doesn’t seem to be all too effective. L.A. won’t let him get the ball with a foot in the paint and on top of that, he has nine fouls in the first two games of the series and has accumulated at least four fouls in nine of his past 15 games against the Clips.
2. Does Memphis still have a shot at winning this series?
McPherson: Yes. Hate to trot out the old chestnut about how a playoff series doesn’t start until a road team wins a game, but there’s a reason clichés are clichés. The Clippers and Grizzlies actually had the same home and road splits this season (32-9 and 24-17), so any kind of home cooking the Clips enjoyed will also be enjoyed by Memphis. Have I mentioned barbecue? I may be hungry.
Lynch: Absolutely. Related to the first question, they don’t need 100 percent Z-Bo to keep it competitive against the Clippers; they need to box out and stop allowing so many offensive rebounds. That’s not just on Randolph – it’s on the entire team.
Katz: Definitely. But the Grizzlies need to start rebounding in order to win four out of five against the Clips. Memphis is a very good team, but when it’s not out-physicaling an opponent who probably has more talent on the roster, it doesn’t stand much of a chance in winning four out of five.
3. The Clippers have a 118.7 offensive rating in the first two games of this series. Is their offensive dominance sustainable?
McPherson: No. That’s just a silly offensive rating. Again, according to NBA.com, their 110.6 average offensive rating for the season at home drops to 104.7 on the road, while the Grizzlies’ 100.0 defensive rating on the road becomes a stingy (and league-leading) 94.9 at home. I still think the Clippers win in the long run, but it’s not just going to be by running the Grizz out of the gym.
Lynch: Not a chance. The Clippers have played well on offense, but they’ve also been fortunate to see some rather heroic jumpers drop, particularly from Jamal Crawford. Though Los Angeles is a fantastic offensive team, Memphis is one of the best defensive teams in the league. They’ll figure out a way to slow the Clippers. Whether they’ll slow them down enough to win the series remains to be seen.
Katz: A 118.7 offensive rating probably is not sustainable, but I think elite offense actually can keep up. The Clips seem to have the Grizzlies’ defense figured out more than most teams do. In six games against Memphis this season, L.A. hasn’t had an offensive efficiency lower than 103.7 in any given game, per basketball-reference. That’s pretty good against a team that had a 100.3 defensive efficiency in the regular season, best in the Western Conference.