Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
5:00 p.m. PST
December 5, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Are the Grizzlies the Clippers’ biggest rivals?
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): Yes. Easy question. Two consecutive first round battles, each heartbreaking for the losing squad in a unique way. Add on the diametrically opposed skill sets of the frontlines – one premised on finesse and the other primarily athleticism. Then there’s the constant threat of a Blake Griffin/Zach Randolph brawl (always followed by Z-Bo’s “I didn’t do anything” grin). Oh, and Tony Allen kicked Chris Paul in the face. These are things that just don’t happen very often.
Luke Laubhan, (@lukelaubhan): Well, what makes a rival? Competitive history? Check. Each team has eliminated the other in cantankerous playoff series the last two seasons. Conflicting styles? Check. It’s Grit-n-Grind versus “Don’t call us Lob City.” Bad blood? Check. Blake isn’t inviting Z-Bo to his birthday party anytime soon, and Paul and Gasol peck at each other like feuding seventh-graders. Despite the locker room rhetoric, Memphis is never just another game.
Dylan Rice-Leary, (@dylearium): Honestly, I feel the Clippers’ two biggest rivals are in their same division. Games against Golden State tap into that heated Nor-Cal/So-Cal bad blood. And as long as they both remain in Los Angeles, the Lakers are the Clippers’ true rivals, though that battle is far more nebulous. That said, Memphis might be the Clippers’ biggest obstacle. It’s not hard to envision another 4-5 matchup between these two teams in the playoffs.
2. How can the Grizzlies compensate for no Gasol and maybe no Z-Bo against the Clippers’ frontline?
Shagrin: The Clippers shouldn’t lose this game precisely because there isn’t much the Grizzlies can do to compensate for the absence of their wily big men. Nobody to taunt Griffin. Nobody to make D.J. look silly on defense. Maybe Coach Joerger will give Jon Leuer the green light again after a reality-shattering 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting against Phoenix.
Laubhan: Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos, and Jon Leuer played well against the Suns on Tuesday night, registering a combined 54 points and 33 rebounds in relief of Memphis’ stud frontline. So maybe more of that? Then again, Griffin and Jordan put more (and different) pressure on a defense than Miles Plumlee and Channing Frye. As always, the Grizzlies’ best bet is to muck up the game, be physical, and make the Clippers earn everything the hard way.
Rice-Leary: Last they met, the Tony Allen karate kick to Chris Paul’s face had lackluster results for Memphis at best, however they did end up with the win. Tonight, I think they will go for a Jarryd Bayless flying eye-rake on one of the Clipper bigs. Or, you know, Memphis will just go to Kosta Koufos, who played well last game against the Clippers in limited minutes.
3. What did the Clippers do poorly against the Hawks that they can improve on in Memphis?
Shagrin: Should the Clippers give up anything close to twelve three-pointers, they shouldn’t bother coming home. Memphis is last in the league in both threes-pointers made and three-pointers attempted.
Laubhan: Los Angeles did a lot poorly against the Hawks; only Paul and Griffin performed as usual. In the absence of Redick and Barnes, you can see several players rethinking their role on the fly, and the result is a lack of offensive flow and a team that’s pressing too much. L.A. needs to settle into its new lineup and substitution patterns. More specifically, it’s time to deploy Reggie Bullock in a fuller role.
Rice-Leary: Shooting 4-for-19 from deep won’t win you a lot of games. The defensive effort was also lacking Wednesday night. Both of these things tell us the Clippers are missing both Redick and Barnes right now. But Gasol’s absence should help the Clippers on both ends of the floor. Los Angeles’ best bet will be to attack Memphis’ depleted front line and try to get some high percentage shots.
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