Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
7:30 p.m. PST
November 18, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Are the Grizzlies the Clippers’ biggest rivals?
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): The Warriors might have a problem with this statement, but the Grizzlies are definitely No. 1 on the Clippers’ rivalry list. The two teams have met twice in the last two years in the playoffs. They’ve split their series. Heck, they have a “Nick Young Game” in their past. How is that now a massive rivalry?
Davis Vo, (@davisvo): Yes, but only for a little bit longer. The Grizzlies-Clippers rivalry may not stand the test of time because their rivalry is heavily predicated on a recent playoff history. However, the Clippers are on the upswing, and I’m of the opinion that the Grizzlies’ championship chances are limited (barring a major player acquisition) in the next few years. If I’m buying “biggest rivalry stock,” I’m investing in the Warriors or the Thunder.
Aaron Fischman, (@aaronhartf): Without a doubt, yes. Over the last 16 seasons, the Clippers have made the postseason a grand total of three times. And of those three postseason appearances, they’ve met the Grizzlies twice. The Clippers were responsible for ending Memphis’ season in 2012, while the Grizzlies returned the favor this past postseason. And as we’ve seen from past meetings, Griffin and Randolph do not like each other one bit (see below).
2. Over/under 0.5 scuffle between Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph.
Katz: Under. Can we hope for something positive? Does Blake have to get shoved by Ibaka and beat up by Z-Bo in the same week? Is this really going to happen? Let’s just hope for the under.
Vo: Under. In light of the Barnes-Griffin-Ibaka scuffle and all the controversy surrounding it, I suspect that the Clippers will try to keep it clean. Randolph may try to needle with Griffin, but my hope is that Griffin feels like he’s in a class (team-wise and individually) above the Grizzlies and Randolph. If Griffin really wants to prove himself, it won’t be by scuffling, it’ll be by winning.
Fischman: Give peace a chance! I’ll say under because in the early going, frustration and fatigue should be at fairly low levels. In addition to Griffin playing the best basketball of his career, becoming a first-time father this summer may have pacified him. Plus, Randolph’s fiancé had a son less than two weeks ago. Father bonding? But seriously, after the Barnes-Ibaka incident, Griffin will make a concerted effort to keep his cool.
3. Better passer: Blake Griffin or Marc Gasol?
Katz: Griffin, but more because of versatility than quality. Gasol is one of the five best passing bigs in the league and the Ga-ZBo combination will always shelter the Grizzlies from opponents raining in baskets, but there are some passes that his lack of athleticism athleticism doesn’t allow Gasol to make. Griffin is a better passer on the move and he’s better when he is in transition. Gasol is probably the better stationary passer, but Griffin’s wider array of passing skills gives him an ever-so-slight advantage.
Vo: Tie, but only because I’m giving a cop-out answer. I’ve seen a lot more Griffin than Gasol, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Griffin’s ability to see a play develop one step ahead after a pick-and-roll. However, I’ve seen Gasol create plays out of absolutely nothing. In terms of production, the NBA.com tracking numbers support my cop-out answer. This season, Griffin created 8 points by assist per game to Gasol’s 7.9, and per 48 minutes, Blake created 10.1 points to Gasol’s 10.7. Simply put, they’re both amazing passers.
Fischman: Gasol by the slimmest of margins. Griffin is the superior passer on the move, including in transition, whereas Gasol gets the nod in a half-court setting. Small sample size be damned, according to SportVU passing data, only five bigs have created more points through their assists (per 48 minutes) than Gasol: McRoberts, Love, Noah, Marc’s big bro and Bogut. Millsap and Griffin (10.1) rank just behind Gasol (10.7).