NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies Need A Better Effort vs. Lob City
It’s never good for a team when they have to focus on preventing elimination from the playoffs, but JOE LaTENGO doesn’t see much hope for the Memphis Grizzlies in their series with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Their backs are against the wall, but the Grizz are at home so at least it’s a wall they know. They won’t have to go far to clear out their lockers should they lose to the Clippers tonight in Memphis, and make no mistake: they’re facing an uphill climb to get a Game 6 in this contest.
Facts don’t lie: Teams which are up 3-1 in their playoff series win 96 percent of the time (194-8). That’s where Lob City stands right now, and the Grizzlies can talk all they like about having a “more complete team,” but they’re missing the one thing L.A. has: CP3.
Chris Paul has been a monster in this series, and he’s needed to be. Until Game 4, Blake Griffin has been held in check by the defense of Memphis. Even in Monday night’s overtime tilt, Griffin — who broke out for 30 points — ended up fouling out and left the ball totally in Paul’s hands. The All-Star point guard, who should also be in the running for the league's MVP award, responded with a singular performance which showed a level of class that outshined anything the opposition had to offer. His 27 total points in the game paled in comparison to the eight-point performance after the first 48 minutes, visibly deflating the visitors at the Staples Center.
Really, the Grizzlies were doomed from the start. They had no business coughing up a 27-point lead at home in the opener. They were the higher-ranked seed in the matchup and had won their previous 11 games at the FedEx Forum. That game should have set the tone for them; instead, it was the first klaxon call of what was to come.
It hasn’t all been bad news for these bears. Mike Conley is not part of their problem, shooting 22-of-44 from the floor and averaging 7.5 assists. But they need to find someone else consistent enough to match Rudy Gay’s 22-point average in the series.
Head coach Lionel Hollins should issue an Amber Alert to find Marc Gasol; he has all but disappeared with only eight points in Game 4 on 1-for-4 shooting from the floor, worse than his limp showing in Game 3 (11 points on 3-for-5 shooting). Zach Randolph hasn’t been much better; they need him to be a bigger part of the solution of not only scoring points, but also shutting down Paul.
The NBA betting line has Memphis as the favorites, but the futures betting reveals a more telling story. The Grizzlies will be hard-pressed to cover the 6.5-point spread; their three losses have been by a total of six points, demonstrating they can’t close the deal in their favor when it comes to crunch time. They need to come out with all guns blazing tonight, and they must keep up that intensity for all 48 minutes... and longer, if overtime is needed again. Otherwise, it will be a crushing conclusion to what had been a good season for them.