In the year 2012, in the city of Memphis, a day was immortalized in the short and ignominious history of the Los Angeles Clippers. They won their first Game 7 on the road in franchise history. The Memphis Grizzlies have had to stew over that all season. But headed into a rematch of the best first round series in the 2012 playoffs, this isn’t exactly the same Grizzlies team.
The Grizzlies were playing some of the best basketball in the NBA when they gambled and traded away their franchise player to Toronto. Rudy Gay had the biggest potential to go off any given night for the Grizzlies, and was a matchup nightmare because of his size. He was a good team player and teammate as well. But the Grizzlies gambled they would be as good without him at a fraction of the cost. To this point they were right.
But the Grizzlies have to play much more perfect to win games without his offensive ability. Mike Conley Jr., Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol play excellent together. How they control the game and play both sides of the floor is what makes this team dangerous. But after the trade they are sneaky deep too. Tayshawn Prince and Tony Allen round out the starters, and Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis, Quincy Pondexter, and Darrell Arthur.
To me this series is all about if that gamble pays off.
The Clippers with Chris Paul are going to run, and Memphis will try and slow them down with their physcality. I expect these games to be closely officiated. Any game could get out of hand fast, and with any luck the series won’t be tainted by flagrant 2 ejections, or suspensions, or worse–injury.
If the Clippers bench plays like it has all season the Clippers, with their homecourt advantage they should call the Grizzlies bluff. But if Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford are not knocking down shots, and the Grizzlies deeper team matches the Clippers bench, Memphis is going to win the series. Memphis is not a team bothered by being on the road. SInce they are so good at home, if the bench can help them steal a game they will be tough to beat.