Remember when Zach Randolph went into beast mode and tore up the opposition with his bruising style of play down low?? He was averaging 22 ppg, and made the Grizzlies team look like a serious threat in the playoffs. Fast forward to this year’s playoffs and here we are: the Grizzlies are down 3-1 in the series to the LA Clippers, dare I say it, yes the LA Clippers and on the brink of elimination. The Grizzlies fought so hard to get home court advantage in the playoffs, and what happened?? Game 1? Fell asleep in the 4th quarter literally. Game 3? Again fell asleep in the 4th quarter. Game 4?? Fell asleep in Overtime to let Chris Paul take over in OT. While this is somewhat shocking to some grizzlies’ fans, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. The Clippers lost home court advantage, more than the Grizzlies actually won it. The Clippers beat some really tough teams down the stretch in the latter half of the season, including a winning streak and two victories over league best OKC. Yes, the Grizzlies got some wins in the last few games in the season, but did anyone forget to mention they were non-playoff teams?? The Grizzlies heading into the playoffs were playing horrible basketball unlike the Clippers.
So where and what happened to this grind and grit team? Marc Gasol and Randolph both averaged 37 points and 14 rebounds in the post-season last year, this year, only 23 and 14. Gasol and Randolph both need to channel their inner beast mode from last year before Game 5 tonight, if they want to get past Lob City. Randolph needs to guard Blake Griffin with his life, don’t let him dunk, don’t let him get into the paint, If Blake gets into the paint, its game over, Blake Griffin is unstoppable in the paint, he’s an absolute monster. Another guy they have to stop is Chris Paul. Paul has dominated this series, and particularly in the fourth. One may wonder whether the Grizzlies have an answer for the demon of the fourth, and first thing they got to do is SLOW him down, an absolute must. But as this Series slips on, The Clippers don’t have an answer for Michael Conley. An interesting stat that was pointed out from ESPN.com: Chris Paul’s scoring and plus/minus go up drastically when Mike is on the bench. BUT Conley seems to play better across the board when Paul is in the game, but his numbers slide when Paul is sitting on the bench. So neither team have a real answer for both Guards on each team. Tonight would be a great start for Conley to bear down hard on Paul and stop his quickness and crazy offense.
But forget the stats for a second. Mostly in game 4, Conley’s quickness, his perimeter shooting, that quick hesitation move that often leads him driving into the lane for a layup, the Clippers defense couldn’t keep up with him. The main difference between Conley and Paul is Paul’s killer instinct vs Mike’s instinct to defer his more heralded teammates. The Grizzlies “take over the game” player would be wearing No. 22, No. 50, or No. 33 and that may indeed be the case in future series, if the Grizzlies make it that far. But for this one, its Mike Conley. Make sure to watch Game 5 tonight between Memphis and Los Angeles. Can the Clippers slay the Grizzlies? Or Will the Grizzlies prevail and force a game 6?