The Memphis Grizzlies are back in Los Angeles Monday, this time squaring off against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies are in the middle of a California road trip, having beaten the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night and the Sacramento Kings last night. They look to continue that streak tonight as they face the Clippers before concluding their trip Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers are also on a streak of their own, having won four straight games, including impressive wins against the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers have averaged 109 points per game over that streak, but don’t expect those kind of numbers tonight.
The Grizzlies are a grind-it-out team, so expect a defensive battle to ensue. Here are a couple of key matchups to look for in tonight’s game.
The Battle of the Centers
The biggest surprise of the Clippers’ season so far has been DeAndre Jordan. He is averaging a double-double and is a top three rebounder in the NBA. Jordan has embraced his role as the team’s defensive stopper thanks in part to head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers convinced Jordan to buy in to his system, and it’s paying dividends early.
The player manning the middle for Memphis is no slouch either. Marc Gasol, last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, is off to a great start this season. He leads all centers in assists, averaging four per game. He is also fourth in scoring amongst centers averaging 16 points per game. Gasol plays like the old school centers played, while Jordan is part of the new wave of athletic big men. Despite the differences in their styles of play, tonight is going to be a fun matchup.
Perimeter Scoring vs. Perimeter Defense
While Jordan has been the biggest surprise for the Clippers so far, J.J. Redick is a close second. Redick is off to a sizzling start, averaging a career-high 17 points per game and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. He is also averaging over eight points in the first quarter which means his teammates are turning to him early and often. It appears that the Clippers have finally filled the void at the starting shooting guard position that has haunted them the past couple of seasons.
Grizzlies shooting guard Tony Allen will have the assignment of chasing Redick around tonight, something he is used to. Allen is the Grizzlies’ premiere perimeter defender. He has made three consecutive All-Defensive Teams and is playing like he is going to make it again this season. Allen is averaging over two steals per game while locking down the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer. Redick and Allen are polar opposites, so it’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.