If you a member of Clippers Nation, it may have been the greatest game you ever witnessed. If you are a fan of the Grizzlies, you may never want to watch another basketball in your life. In one of the most improbable spurts in NBA Playoff lore, the Clippers used a 28-3 run to close out a 99-98 win in Memphis that could define both franchises moving forward.
Tale of Two Games:
The Grizzlies were dominant the first three quarters (including a 34-16 1st quarter), as they lit it up from 3-point land, hitting 8 of 10 from beyond the arc. As the TNT crew of Dick Stockton and Chris Webber mentioned numerous times throughout the telecast, 3-point shooting is like “fools gold”, as eventually it runs dry. However, the ironic part of that statement is that the Grizzlies didn’t go cold from downtown, as they finished an excellent 11 of 16 (69%). The problem was they stopped making great decisions in their pick-and-roll game. Instead of getting to the lane to either attack the tin with authority or “drive and kick” in order to hit the open shooter on the wing, the Grizzlies became careless in the lane. They drove “too far” into the paint, and because the Clippers clogged the paint quicker and with more intensity in the 4th quarter, the Grizzlies weren’t able to create open passing lanes to their shooters. The result was ten 2nd half Grizzlies turnovers that led to a 14-6 advantage for the Clippers in transition. When Blake Griffin and Chris Paul get into transition, there is nothing that can be done to stop them outside of fouling. The problem for Memphis is that the Clippers shot 17-23 from the line (74%) as Paul and Griffin each hit a pair late.. When the Clippers get out and run while playing stifling defense, they are an elite team.
Nick Young: An Immortal in Clippers Lore
In Washington, Nick Young was a symbol for everything wrong in that franchise. He had a reputation of being selfish, of being an ill-advised volume shooter and not being disciplined. Young has always played hard for the Clippers, and after a rough ineffective start to his Clippers tenure, he has been a modern day flashback to Vinny “Microwave” Johnson. At the 2:47 mark of the 4th quarter, the Clippers trailed 96-84. After a series of back-to-back-to-back triples, the scoreboard read 96-93 with a 1:47 left. This dramatic turnaround silenced the crowd of 18,119 and made the game into a game. Memphis never recovered from the 3-point barrage and Nick Young made an indelible mark in the annuals of NBA lore (Think Reggie Miller vs. Knicks in 1995),
What it Means:
For the Clippers they literally stole Game 1. They need to refocus and figure out a way to play with that intensity for 48 minutes as opposed to 16. The danger for the Clippers is they know they can fall behind (having now 15 comeback victories after trailing by 10 or more points) and still win. That knowledge often leads them to play careless and uninspired ball. In order for them to do damage in the playoff past Round 1, they are going to have to learn to play hard and with intensity for 48 minutes.
For the Grizzlies, it’s about character; can they bounce back? For 3 quarters they were clearly the better team, and they wasted the best 3-point shooting night they will have of the series (they normally shoot 32% from downtown). Can they answer the bell Wednesday night?
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