This post is part of our playoff preview series here at Hickory-High, complete with both statistical and video breakdowns. Check out the rest of the previews here.
Los Angeles vs. Memphis Season Series
Clippers – TO% - The Grizzlies thrive on forced turnovers and transition baskets, leading the league this season in both opponent’s TO% and points off of turnovers. The Clippers will need to focus on an efficient offensive attack, limiting mistakes, maximizing possessions, and forcing the Grizzlies’ offense to work in the half-court. The good news is that during the regular season the Clippers had no problems with this, turning the ball over on just 11.0% of their possessions against Memphis. Chris Paul played 113 minutes this season against them and had just five turnovers. If he and the Clippers can continue to finish possessions with field goal or free throw attempts they’ll have put the Grizzlies at a huge disadvantage.
Grizzlies – FTA/FGA - If this series follows the pattern it did during the regular season, the Grizzlies won’t be able to rack up point in transition nearly as often as they’d like. In the half-court, they ran a very post-up heavy offense, even with Zach Randolph missing significant amounts of time. In fact, 12.6% of their offensive possessions were used in the post, more than any other possession type other than transition and spot-ups. The Clippers frontline has been less than exceptional this season against powerful post scorers. Even more than just racking up points on the interior, pounding the ball in to the post gives the Grizzlies an opportunity to set a physical tone, get to the line, and hopefully wear down Blake Griffin. Randolph will be back in starting lineup and is the one clear offensive weapon the Clippers don’t have an answer for. If they can’t get out on the break, the Grizzlies will need to get it inside and get to the line.
Players to Watch:
Clippers – Caron Butler - The Grizzlies will be paying oodles of defensive attention to Griffin and Paul, giving Butler plenty of opportunities to drift to the corner for an open look. During their three games in the regular season Butler knocked down 4 of 8 three-pointers, key for a team that’s short on consistent outside threats. His ability to both swing the ball and space the floor opens room for Griffin in the paint and driving lanes for Paul. The Clippers were +21 in 88 minutes this season against the Grizzlies with Butler on the floor, and he turned the ball over just four times. He won’t be carrying the time but his skill set is just what the Clippers need to fill in the gaps.
Grizzlies – Marreese Speights - Speights played just 45 minutes against the Clippers this season, but was incredibly effective. In those minutes he totalled 21 points and 14 rebounds on 10 of 16 shooting. With Randolph moving back into the starting lineup, Speights will have an opportunity to work against Kenyon Martin or Reggie Evans. Speights can pull both of those players away from the basket with his ability to make the mid-range jumpshot, giving Marc Gasol or Randolph the opportunity to isolate in the post. The Grizzlies half-court offense will be consistently challenged to create good looks. Having a player who can work both inside and out coming off the bench could be a key factor.
Lineups to Watch:
Clippers - Chris Paul – Mo Williams – Caron Butler – Blake Griffin – DeAndre Jordan - Not that Chris Paul has struggled with turnovers against the Grizzlies, but minutes where Mo Williams is at shooting guard instead of Nick Young or Randy Foye just give the Clippers the extra boost of two ball-handlers. The Clippers used this lineup for 12 minutes against the Grizzlies in the regular season, and they responded with ludicrous offensive efficiency, scoring 34 points on 10-15 from the field and 11-15 from the line, all with just two turnovers. Just to repeat, they accomplished that in TWELVE MINUTES. The two biggest offensive hurdles for the Clippers are going to be protecting the ball and spacing the floor to keep the Grizzlies from collapsing on the interior. This lineup kills two birds with one stone.
Grizzlies – Mike Conley – O.J. Mayo – Tony Allen – Rudy Gay – Marreese Speights - I’ll admit I’m throwing things at the wall here hoping something sticks. This grouping may seem like an odd choice in that they’ve played just 13 minutes together on the season, none of which came against the Clippers. But for the Grizzlies to get into their comfort zone, they need to make the Clippers uncomfortable, bump them out of their half-court sets, pressure the ball and create turnovers. No combination of players the Grizzlies used was really able to accomplish that against the Los Angeles in their three regular season meetings. This group forced turnovers on 15.0% of their defensive possessions, and would create a fairly large advantage in the speed and athleticism departments. This unit is not going to be a focal point for Lionel Hollins, but in small doses, throwing something at the Clippers that they haven’t prepared for could be enough to shake things up.
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com