- This obviously told a tale of two games in the first meeting of this series. Memphis dominated the game 1′s first 40 minutes on the strength of scorching shooting from deep – the normally streaky Grizzlies were 11-16 from three and Mike Conley was a perfect 5-5. But that was all before the historic and game-ending 28-3 run by Los Angeles. The Clippers, meanwhile, were just 2-13 from long-range before connecting on four bombs in the span of 5:43 left on the clock to 1:47. Just like that, what was a 95-82 Grizz lead was cut to three after a trio of successive treys by Nick Young. Neither of these teams was particularly accurate or prolific from three-point range during the season, so don’t expect similar fireworks from either in game 2. Regardless, whichever team accounts for more hidden points from deep should have a net plus that will be tough to overcome.
- Memphis and LAC ranked third and fourth in offensive rebound rate during the regular season, so it wasn’t surprising to see them pull down 14 and 13 of their own misses, respectively. The Clippers didn’t have a single outlier; no player grabbed more than DeAndre Jordan’s three offensive rebounds, and the two each by Blake Griffin and Reggie Evans were followed up by several of their teammates getting one of their own. That wasn’t the case for the Grizzlies, though, as Marreese Speights – an average rebounder during the regular season and poor one throughout his career – corralled six of Memphis’ 14 offensive rebounds all by his lonesome in just 18 minutes of play. Obviously, the Clipper bigs need to do a better job of locating and putting a body on Speights, but to expect him to gather even half of his game 1 total is wishful thinking. Considering the somewhat flukey nature of Memphis’ prowess on the offensive glass on Sunday one suspects this is an area LAC could take advantage of in game 2.
- The Grizzlies shot a respectable 44.8% in game 1, and it took some truly awful accuracy down the stretch to bring that number down. It was obvious to anyone watching the game that Memphis’ hot start from mid and long range was unsustainable, and it proved to be just that. But that didn’t stop the Grizz from hoisting up jumper after jumper in the second half. Their shot selection was especially egregious during Los Angeles’ run, as eight of Memphis’ 13 missed attempts were shots from outside of ten feet. Remember, this is a team that almost rode the overwhelmingly strong interior play of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol all the way t0 the Western Conference Finals last season, but that identity was nowhere to be found on Sunday. Granted, they were on fire early, but when the game settled down Lionel Hollins would have been wise to tell Conley, Rudy Gay, and OJ Mayo to force touches to Gasol and the still-recovering Randolph in the post. Whether or not they change it up and start inside-out tonight will be huge in establishing the comfort and flow of the Memphis bigs in game 2.
Los Angeles Playing Rotation
- The fab five that won Sunday’s game for Vinny Del Negro was the barely-used Chris Paul/Eric Bledsoe/Nick Young/Blake Griffin/Reggie Evans unit. In this morning’s Playoff Stats of the Day, we chronicled how important Bledsoe is to LAC as a change of pace off the bench, and after his performance in game 1 he should see increased minutes going forward. Young will get the start tonight in place of the injured Caron Butler to provide much needed floor-spacing, and will likely need to play a much bigger role on both ends of the floor than he’s used to. What will be most interesting, though, is when or if Del Negro decides to go back to that fateful five. DeAndre Jordan offers size and shot-blocking that Evans can’t, but isn’t close to as smart or instinctive a defender as Evans against pick and rolls. Ditto for Kenyon Martin, who at this point and in this series, at least, should take a firm backseat to Evans as the Clips third big. The lineup that won game 1 is certainly unconventional. But it offers speed with Bledsoe and Young, defense and aggression with Bledsoe and Evans, and a clear offensive pecking order in which everyone knows his role. Plus, there’s that whole thing where the mostly ineffective Evans and sometimes so Bledsoe forces Paul to play like his fourth quarter, assassin self, something LAC would undoubtedly like to see more. Los Angeles shouldn’t over do it, but if they’re in a tough spot looking to get out of a rut, don’t be shocked if Del Negro tries his hand with these guys again to great success.