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Clippers Face Must-Win Game 6

The battered Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in a “must win” game tonight versus the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center.  While the Clippers are up 3 games to 2 in the best of seven series, a banged up Clippers team NEEDS to win at home to avoid a difficult Game 7 in Memphis.   If you have watched the series closely, you know that the Grizzlies could be up 5-0 if about 6 different possessions went differently.  The Clippers understand that they have a small margin of error thanks to numerous injuries that affect their three best players.

The prevalent concerns coming from Game 5 were the injuries suffered by both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.  The results of Griffin’s MRI confirmed he had a sprained knee while Paul is nursing a jammed finger, a compromised groin and a sprained hip flexor.  Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro on two injured stars,

“They’re both pretty sore today (Thursday).  They were in here getting as much therapy as they can today and tomorrow before the game. We obviously need both of them to be playing at a high level.”

Both players are game-time decisions but both should be able to go tonight devoid of further complications.  Unfortunately for the Clippers, neither one will be at full strength so other role players on the Clippers are going to have to “step up”, especially on the offensive end.  The Clippers on Wednesday endured an absolutely horrific offensive night (37.1% shooting).  Not only did they severely struggle shooting the ball but they weren’t able to initiate their offense.  This often led to contested jumpers with the shot clock running down which allowed the Grizzlies to get into transition opportunities off defensive rebounds.

Here are the likely suspects that need to step up for the Clippers if they are going to close-out the Memphis Grizzlies:

Nick “Swaggy P” Young: 

Young has been both sensational at times for the Clippers (Think Game 1: 19 points) and ineffective (Game 5: 0-4 0 points).  Clippers Nation has come to embrace his “swag” and fearlessness with the basketball.  However like most volume shooters, if he isn’t connecting from the field, his value greatly diminishes.  Coach Vinny Del Negro only gave Young 12 minutes the other night as the tight, physical defense of Memphis seemed to intimidate Swaggy P (in the Twitter-verse, Nick Young does not exist.  Clippers Nation only refers to him as Swaggy P, ex:  “Swaggggggy P for Threeeeeeeee!”)  Young also needs to take to heart that if his shots aren’t falling, he needs to find other ways to contribute.  The Clippers don’t expect him to create for others, but he needs to step on the boards and on the defensive end to be more of an all-around player.

I have a feeling that Young is going to respond under the lights in LA. 

Mo Williams

Mo dropped 21 points in Game 5 on 8-21 shooting.  In order for the Clippers to be successful they cannot be counting on “Mo Will” to jack up 21 shots.  One problem in Game 5 for the Clips was that outside of Paul and Griffin, there wasn’t any offensive firepower.  Williams admirably filled that role, especially when Paul couldn’t attack the lane in the 4th quarter as he tried to play through his strained hip flexor.  However, Williams is not the type of player who can carry a team for 48 minutes and should not ideally be forcing 21 shots a night.  The Clippers really need his spark on the 2nd unit and while they need that third scorer, around fifteen shots from an aggressive Williams tonight would be perfect.

Randy Foye: 

During the Clippers run of winning 13 of 15 games over a hot stretch in April, Foye was unconscious from behind the arc, totaling 43 three-pointers in April while hitting a 3- pointers in 21 straight games.  Foye post-season shooting numbers are similar to his statistics in April, but his shot attempts are down and in Game 1, 2 and 4 Foye has scored 6 or fewer points:


Points Per Game












The Clippers need him to be a perimeter threat so that his defender has to stay with him an extra second instead of leaving him in order to help on stopping penetration from Chris Paul.  If Foye continues to struggle the Grizzlies are going to continue to clog the middle of the lane, making things more difficult for Griffin and Paul.  Foye has to be more aggressive and effective when he’s on the floor.

Should be an Epic Game 6:

The Clippers and Grizzlies are both desperate and it should be an entertaining and intense game.  The best series in the NBA’s 1st round of the playoffs will come down to:

  1. Which team can control the paint?
  2. Is CP3 healthy enough to close?

Staples will be rocking and it will be interesting to see how the Clippers “Team” responds to their opportunity to step up. 

Will they “Rise Up” to the challenge?

This author thinks so…

Follow me @clippersnation1 and @coachhaz.