Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Game 5, Series tied at 2
April 30, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
The Clippers take the first two in Los Angeles. The Grizzlies follow by winning two blowouts in Memphis. Are the Grizzlies improving or is each team just holding down home court? Tonight might shed some light onto that. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. How important is the Grizzlies’ “momentum” heading back to LA?
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Momentum doesn’t seem very important anymore. The Clippers had all the momentum heading into Memphis and look at the good it did them. Every game has had the score within five points during the fourth quarter, so the final score belies the closeness of this campaign.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Very important. It’s what saved them from coming back to L.A. down 3-1 and on the verge of elimination. In Game 2, you could see the Grizzlies figuring out their mode of attack against the Clippers; even though L.A. won on a miraculous CP3 buzzer-beater, Memphis played them about even. Since the trip to the Grindhouse, though, it’s been all grit n’ grind, and the Grizzlies have taken control of the series.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): Momentum is a funny thing: you can’t quantify it, but you can feel it, and you never know when it’s going to shift. It’s feels like a lifetime ago, but last week it was the Clippers who had all the momentum going into Memphis. With some monster play by Conley, Randolph, and Gasol, the momentum shifted. It can shift again…I think.
2. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are averaging 31 and 35 minutes per game, respectively. Do those totals need to change or is their current playing time appropriate?
Han: If a team has two top-15 players, arguably the best players at their positions, the natural assumption is that they should play the lion’s share of minutes come playoff time. Griffin’s minutes are a little misleading as his intermittent foul trouble has deflated his average, but both he and Paul should be nearing 40 minutes nightly.
Buha: Their minute totals need to increase, and fast. Paul and Griffin should each be playing somewhere between 37-40 minutes a night, at the very least. Griffin has battled foul trouble in the constant paint war with Randolph, but he’s been the Clippers’ only source of interior offense. If the plodding combination of Gasol and Randolph can log 40-plus minutes with capable backups behind them, so too can the Clippers’ stars.
James: In a vacuum, it’s a problem: in the most important games, the best players should be on the floor for the longest time. But so much went wrong in the last two fourth quarters that I’m hesitant to say those problems would be solved simply by more minutes for Paul and Griffin — they were a combined 1-for-4 from the floor in the final frame of Game 4.
3. Take your pick. Griz or Clips?
Han: The Clippers’ struggles to produce from their wing positions has caused great concern on the road. But at home, role players tend to be at their peak. Los Angeles takes the first in this see-saw battle, now a best-of-three.
Buha: Clippers, if only because they looked so much better at home than on the road. When they’ve faced adversity this season – a Game 5 would virtually end their season – the Clippers have usually responded well. I expect them to properly limit the post touches and positioning of the Grizzlies’ big men, and return to their aggressive defensive nature from Games 1 and 2.
James: I’ll stick with my original pick of Clippers in seven and say they win this game — though a lot needs to happen for them to pull it out: Crawford, Butler, and Billups need to shoot better than 4-for-21; DeAndre Jordan needs to be in on the floor to (at least try to) contain Gasol; and the Clippers need to close the rebounding gap.