NBA Playoff Schedule 2012: Complete Guide to Monday's Game 4 Action
The NBA playoffs have already seen one side progress through to the next round—the Oklahoma City Thunder—and Monday could well see another series winner.
The San Antonio Spurs are just one win away from sweeping the Utah Jazz, whilst the Los Angeles Clippers have the chance to extend their series lead to 3-1 over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Here's your complete guide and preview to both Monday matches, so with that, let's take a look.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz
8PM ET at Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
No team has ever won from 0-3 down in a best-of-seven series, but that's exactly what the Utah Jazz will be trying to do when they take on the San Antonio Spurs at home.
Utah lost the first three matches by a combined total of 58 points, and if they're going to pull off an unlikely victory on Monday night, they need to get their offense into gear.
Throughout the series, the Jazz have shot at just 0.388 from the field and 0.281 from deep, and if they're going to keep up with a side averaging 107.3 points per game, then those numbers need to improve.
Their defense does need to start making big plays, but against side shooting 0.512 for the series, they may be better off simply trying to keep up with them.
For the Spurs, the key rests again in their defense and their ability to force the Jazz into turnovers and poor shot selection. They've perhaps given away too many fouls in the paint and as a result have conceded a few too many cheap points from the free throw line, but it's hard to find fault with the 3-0 San Antonio Spurs.
Game 4 sees the series on the line for the Jazz, and at home, they'll no doubt be trying everything to stop the Spurs. Yet once again, San Antonio's offense will prove just too much to handle, and they'll sweep Utah 4-0 and gain some valuable time off in the process.
San Antonio Spurs by 6 points.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Clippers
10:30PM ET at Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
After almost throwing away the match late in Game 3, the LA Clippers hold a crucial 2-1 series lead heading in to Game 4—to be played at the Staples Center.
After somehow winning Game 1 in Memphis, the Clippers have secured a huge home-court advantage for what is arguably, the most crucial game in the series. A loss would see the series leveled; a win would set up a potential series-winning lead.
The key for Memphis is Rudy Gay, who shot two huge three-pointers in the final minute in Game 3 to almost steal a win for the Grizzlies. Gay has been the go-to-man this series, who leads the team in points and steals and has played more minutes than anyone else.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol must continue to work on their inside play—something they dominated at in the regular season but have struggled with throughout the playoffs. Their rebounding and second-chance points are steadily improving, but they must get it firing if they are to level the series.
For the Clippers, they'll be looking to their star point guard Chris Paul, who is without doubt their player of the series so far. 'Lob City' has shot at over 0.500 for the series and over 0.450 from deep—largely due to the success Paul is having with Reggie Evans and Blake Griffin.
Paul leads the team in points, assists and steals for the series, but has impressed most through his leadership of a generally inexperienced Clippers team. Another strong performance from him seems likely in this one.
Many expected the Clippers to struggle in their opening round against an in-form Grizzlies side, but it simply hasn't been the case. Memphis have been outplayed inside and blown away outside and as a result, trail the Clippers in the series.
And at home, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin simply look too strong for me. Memphis may have scored more points this series but haven't shown the same consistency and development that the Clippers have throughout and as a result, will drop to 3-1 after this one.
Expect Griffin and Evans to once again win the battle inside, and despite the best efforts of Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, who both will have big nights, the Clippers will win this one in an offensive shootout.
Los Angeles Clippers by 3 points.
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