Los Angeles Clippers (43-24) @ Memphis Grizzlies (39-30)
5:00 p.m. PST
March 19, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
1. Who has the revenge game: Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson or both?
Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU): It could be those two, but you’d be selling the former Clippers thing short with the Grizzlies. This will not only be Lance Stephenson’s first game against the Clippers since his trade from L.A., but it will be Alex Stepheson’s first matchup against the Clippers as well! Zach Randolph (game-time decision) and Ryan Hollins are also former Clippers. The Grizzlies even have three broadcasters (Elliot Perry, Hank McDowell, Brevin Knight) who played for the Clippers!
Brandon Tomyoy (@dingyu): With the drastic swing in playing time and production between his time as a Clipper and his current stint in Memphis, Lance Stephenson is more likely to have a big night against the Clippers. I’m sure it will also help that they’re at home, which is the only place they’ve managed to score 100 or more since their win at Cleveland 6 games ago.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan): Neither. Alex Stepheson revenge game.
2. Moving on from those we’ve lost, can we get a status report on Jeff Green?
Murray: Well, Green is shooting the three well as a Clipper, making 16-of-43 from deep for a 37.2 percent clip. Other than that? He’s playing some of the worst ball of his career after one month in L.A. The closer to the basket Green has been, the less effective. He’s making less than 56 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket as a Clipper, an area where he averages 63.5 percent on his career. Green has rarely been a plus-rebounder, but he’s grabbed a total of five rebounds in his last 74 minutes on the floor. And that talk about being used more as a passer? Hogwash. Green only has two games as a Clipper so far with more than two assists.
Tomyoy: The offense has been inconsistent, which given his track record of inconsistent production, is to be expected. Where he’s perhaps been the most disappointing, though, is on the defensive end. After a couple early games where he provided a spark by blocking some timely late-game shots, he’s come in and looked out of place, mostly because he appears to be in the wrong place on defense many times. Prior to his insertion into the starting lineup, the Clippers had been 7th in the league in opposing points per game. They’re now 9th. Some of this has to do with stronger opposition, sure, but Green certainly deserves some flak for the drop-off as well.
Whalan: Jeff has been as advertised (10/4/2 on 51% TS in 27 minutes). For the purposes of this team as constructed that is enough to bolster the small forward position. Wesley and Jeff sharing the spot gives 48 minuts of long, athletic and adequate three point shooting. It sure gets easier to watch when you accept that he will show up one every three games!
3. What are the chances we see this match-up in Round 1? Do the Clippers want that?
Murray: I know Matt Barnes would like to see the Clippers in Round 1. And I’d say the chances are better than 50-50 for L.A. and Memphis to be the 4-5 matchup in the West. The Grizzlies are probably not catching up to the Clippers, but the Clippers don’t seem like they’ll be able to catch Oklahoma City. The Trail Blazers are at 6 for now, but there may be too much distance for them to take Memphis’ spot. The Grizzlies would be an ideal matchup for the Clippers. Memphis has lost three straight against the Clippers, and they’re definitely not getting their highest-paid player back in C Marc Gasol.
Tomyoy: What the Clippers want is a button that teleports them immediately past the second round. But if we’re considering odds, with the Clippers not owning any tiebreakers against the Thunder and with the sizeable lead the Grizzlies have ahead of the 6 – 8 seeds, then this is absolutely the matchup that is most likely to happen in the West Playoffs. Given the lack of outside shooting in Memphis’ offense, and the lack of a single player that can consistently go off regardless of how good a defense is, this could be considered a favorable matchup. Given the injury woes this Grizzlies team has been having as well, this presents the best opportunity for the Clippers to take the playoff rubber match.
Whalan: Memphis have a 4 game buffer over Portland and are 5 games behind the Clips. With 13 games remaining I’d say that there is a 70% chance they finish 5th, with a 30% Portland jump them. As for the Clips, well, I think they’re firmly embedded in the fourth seed. Is this a good match up? Yes and no. The Grizzlies will surely get under their skin but without Gasol that’d be firm favorites.