NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Things Memphis Grizzlies Can Do to Rebound vs. Clippers
The Memphis Grizzlies are trailing the Los Angeles Clippers two games to one in the first-round series. If one or two game-ending missed shots by Rudy Gay would have gone down differently, the Grizzlies would have a different outlook on the series.
Then again, it's not so simple for Memphis. The Grizzlies have had several things go wrong in the series. O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph haven't shot efficiently from the field. The Grizzlies didn't score well in the fourth quarter in Games 1 and 3.
Also, they looked the way they did on the road in the Game 3 loss at the Staples Center.
The Grizzlies can change many or all of the things that have gone wrong to bounce back.
Following is a list of the things the Grizzlies can do to take a hold on the series.
Forget That Game 4 Is a Road Game
To forget that they're on the road may be difficult, as it's apparent that the Staples Center in Los Angeles lacks the "Grindhouse"-embracing fans clad in the three shades of Grizzlies blue.
However, this is essential in grabbing the needed Game 4 win. The Grizzlies struggled in the regular season against good teams on the road, going 5-10 against winning teams. Overall, they averaged 7.5 fewer points and 2.9 fewer rebounds on the road.
In their two road losses to the Clippers, the Grizzlies struggled to score, shooting 35 percent for 91 points in the January 26 loss and 42 percent for 85 points in the March 24 loss.
Their play at L.A. somewhat resembled the play seen in the January loss, in which they managed only 19 points in the fourth quarter en route to a seven-point loss. In Game 3, the Grizzlies shot 3-of-15 in the fourth quarter en route to 15 points.
The Clippers outscored them by eight in the quarter to earn the one-point win.
In order to bounce back in Game 4, the Grizzlies will have to show the scoring ability they often show at home.
Hit Shots in the Fourth Quarter
Simply put, the Grizzlies need to score competitively in the fourth quarter. They didn't do that in Games 1 and 3. Their 1-of-14 field-goal performance and 13 points in Game 1 were miserable, and ESPN ominously displayed the figures in Game 3.
While the Grizzlies could have made people forget those numbers, they couldn't do it in Game 3. Their 3-of-14 shooting figure and 15 points were anything but happy.
The Grizzlies need to be sure that these anemic shooting performances don't repeat themselves. As long as they're sure of this, they can be sure to stay in competitive shape in crunch time.
O.J. Mayo Needs to Score More Efficiently
O.J. Mayo can't get away with shooting as poorly as he has in the series. He's shooting 33 percent from the field (12-of-36) en route to 14.3 points per game.
His low shooting percentages could have been overlooked in the first two games. He shot an acceptable 5-of-12 (including 4-of-5 from three-point range) en route to 17 points. That he shot only 1-of-7 from two-point range is perplexing since he shouldn't have hit fewer than 35 percent from inside the arc.
The 6-of-16 performance in Game 2 wasn't what one would call accurate. Still, Mayo's shooting job was passable since he put up 20 points. He hit 2-of-7 from three-point range and 4-of-9 from inside the arc, which are nice for Grizzlies fans to see.
Game 3 was unacceptable. Mayo went 1-of-8 from the field en route to six points. He missed all three of his three-point shots. He had a horrid offensive rating of 55 points per 100 possessions.
Some might like to chalk that up to his entering the game later, as Quincy Pondexter was the first backup guard to enter the game instead of Mayo. Still, Mayo saw 29 minutes of play, enough to get in rhythm.
The Grizzlies rely on Mayo for much of their bench scoring. Pondexter scored 11 points, but all of those points came in the first half and he rarely hits double figures (seven times in the regular season). They'll need Mayo to sharpen his aim and select shots better moving forward in order to come back in the series.
Keep Blake Griffin in Front of Them
Blake Griffin has sometimes been too much of a factor in this series for the Grizzlies to handle.
The Grizzlies were able to contain him in Game 1. Griffin hit only seven of his 15 field goal attempts. He threw down three dunks. Other than dunks, Griffin was an anemic 4-of-11 from the field. In the Clippers' fourth-quarter comeback, he dropped two buckets, including one dunk.
In Game 2, Griffin was more effective shooting the ball. He hit nine of his 15 shots from the field. While he had two dunks, Griffin hit an impressive seven of 10 layup attempts. The Grizzlies did manage to force him to turn it over four times. Still, Griffin had an offensive rating of 107 points per 100 possessions.
His game was toned down in Game 3. Griffin went 7-of-13 from the field. He threw down two dunks and hit two of five layups. One of his dunks was an emphatic steal-turned-Sportscenter highlight to put the Clippers ahead by four at the half. The Grizzlies forced him to turn it over five times, an impressive coup.
He had an offensive rating for the game of only 78 points per 100 possessions.
The Grizzlies have succeeded in some ways better than others in defending him. They've managed to force him to turn it over 3.7 times per game. Also, he's been in foul trouble each time, committing five fouls in each games, another area that helps to reduce his formidable presence.
His 53.4 percent field-goal percentage for the series is slightly worse than his regular-season mark (54.9 percent). The Grizzlies could do a little bit better in keeping Griffin from making an impact on offense.
While they've forced the 23-year-old to dunk a little less and take actual shots more often, even those two or three dunks each game could be prevented.
Marreese Speights and Zach Randolph could do better in keeping Griffin in front of them. Speights can't be intimidated by Griffin. Randolph needs to use his strength and athleticism more to counter that of Griffin.
If the Grizzlies can be stronger defending the Clippers' dunking machine, then they'd take away a big-time offensive factor from L.A.
Keep Nick Young from Being a Factor
Nick Young has been a pesky scorer in this series. His perimeter shooting has helped set the Clippers on fire when needed.
In Game 1, Young hit 6-of-9 field-goal attempts, including three of his four three-point attempts, en route to 19 points.
In Game 2, he was a force again. Young hit 4-of-7 field-goal attempts, including all three of his three-point attempts, on his way to 11 points.
He wasn't quite as hot in Game 3. Young went 3-of-5 from the field, including 1-of-3 from three-point range, for seven points. Still, 3-of-5 is pretty nice.
The Grizzlies badly need to muffle this offensive spark plug. Young had offensive ratings of 165, 130 and 105 points per 100 possessions in Games 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
If the Grizzlies can keep Chris Paul from rotating the ball to Young and keep Young from taking easy shots, they'll have an easier shot at winning.