No one would have guessed, being 27 points down that the Clippers would come back to win game 1. It was almost unfathomable. Coach Vinny Del Negro appeared to be throwing in the towel and looking toward game 2 when Chris Paul implored him to get him back in the game to at least have a chance to win. Their defense and energy sparked an incredible comeback. Nick Young hit consecutive 3-pointers and Reggie Evans made all of the big plays, surprisingly on both ends. The Grizzlies and their fans were already defeated before Rudy Gay even took the final shot, everyone almost having the foresight that the shot was destined to miss based on the body language of everyone in the arena.
The buzzer sounds and the Clippers pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in NBA history. However, in the playoffs, one game is only one game:
There really is no such thing as momentum that carries from game to game. These NBA teams work meticulously and in the same way that the Grizzlies made the right adjustments to start the series, they made the necessary adjustments to keep from having a repeat of game 1.
Early on, we saw Blake Griffin on Marc Gasol. While it wasn’t consistent throughout the entire matchup, it would have been reassuring knowing in advance that Gasol would go 3-9 from the field, however, the Grizzlies were able to score through other players such as Gay, Conley and Mayo, all with 20, or near 20-point outputs.
Thanks to Tony Allen’s defense, Randy Foye has been limited on his shot attempts and as a result of the Caron Butler injury, Bobby Simmons started in his stead. With that particular lineup, there really are only two scoring threats, Paul and Griffin. Simmons did score efficiently scoring on 4 of 5 of his shots from the field but with Memphis’ solid perimeter defense, he wasn’t as much of an outside threat as Nick Young, Mo Williams or Chris Paul who were a major part of the Clippers’ 9-16 from 3-point range.
As for the Grizzlies, they aren’t able to rely on their perimeter shooting and were 2-12 from 3-point range in the game. They won the battle in the paint 46-38 and scored consistently as they should with both Randolph, Gasol and Speights. They shot well from the perimeter in the first 3 quarters of game 1, seemingly making all of their shots but they knew the gameplan that they had in place prior to game 2 and were intent on sticking to it:
“We scored a lot of points in the paint (46). We were playing inside-out, getting the ball in the post, and guys were making shots. That’s what we need to do.” – Zach Randolph
Turnovers essentially killed the Clippers’ chances to win the game. Despite shooting a very impressive 56.7% from the field, they turned the ball over 20 times. Chris Paul’s early turnovers did not bode well for the Clippers despite their solid 1st quarter start.
Looking Ahead to Game 3:
The Clippers can ill afford to surrender the ball as many times as they did in game 2. They scored efficiently when the ball was thrown into Griffin in the post especially in transition before the Grizzlies’ defense was in place. Also despite being a slow-paced team relative to most of the teams in the league, the Clippers should look to get easy baskets in transition and continue to get Blake Griffin good looks around the basket before the Grizzlies get a chance to adjust.
It’s still anyone’s series but the Clippers should feel comfortable coming back to Staples Center where they posted a 24-9 record in the regular season. It’s been 6 years since the Clippers have hosted a playoff game and it should be exciting. We’ll be back next week to see how the series stands here at Hoops Talk Nation.