Clippers vs. Grizzlies NBA playoff preview
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
Season series: Clippers won 3-1.
Points per game (per 100 possessions): Clippers 101.1, Grizzlies 93.4 (Clippers 107.7, Grizzlies 101.7).
Points allowed per game (per 100 possessions): Clippers 94.6, Grizzlies 89.3 (Clippers 101.0, Grizzlies 97.4)
Matchups worth watching: Clippers point guard Chris Paul vs. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, Clippers power forward Blake Griffin vs. Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan vs. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.
Scoring leaders: Griffin (18.0), Randolph (15.4 PPG).
Why Los Angeles will win: In Paul, the Clippers have best point guard on the planet running their offense. This is a deep, versatile team with youthful athleticism (Griffin, Jordan, Eric Bledsoe) and veteran smarts (Grant Hill, Caron Butler) alike. These teams’ first-round matchup last season was decided by a scoring outburst from Nick Young in the first game, and Jamal Crawford is similarly capable of taking a game over.
Why Memphis will win: The Grizzlies boast one of the most suffocating team defenses in the league. There’s not a more formidable starting frontcourt in the league, at both ends of the floor, than Randolph and Gasol, and Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince can shut down just about anyone on the perimeter. If Memphis can slow the games down to its pace, it will be very difficult for the Clippers to keep up.
Did you know? Last year’s first-round series between these two teams went to seven games, but only one was decided by 10 or more points.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 7.
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