NBA Playoffs 2012: Most Important Players in Monday's Game 4 Matchups

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  - MAY 5: Enes Kanter #0 of the Utah Jazz reaches in on Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on May 05, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Spurs won the game 102-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The 2012 NBA playoffs features two Game 4 matchups on Monday, May 7, and the star players will have to make sure they do their part to either advance their team to the next round, avoid elimination, gain a great series lead or help their team get out of the hole. 

Monday night's games are all about the Western Conference, as the Utah Jazz host the San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and the Los Angeles Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT. 

The former hasn't been all that exciting, but the latter has been a thrilling series that should produce another great game tonight. 

With that said, here's the most important players on each team for Monday's Game 4 matchups. 


San Antonio Spurs 

Tony Parker has lead the Spurs in scoring in each game this series, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see that trend continue. 

San Antonio has had zero problems against the Jazz, and since this is a chance for the Spurs to close it out and have ample time to rest up for the second round, I fully expect them to win. 

It's up to Parker to keep doing an excellent job of controlling the team and being a leader on the court. He's far more talented than Utah's backcourt, so Parker should thrive once again. 


Utah Jazz 

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 23:  Forward Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Center on February 23, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consen
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Al Jefferson recorded a double-double for the Jazz in Game 3, which happened to be the closest Utah got to winning a game in this series. Granted, the Jazz still lost by 12, but it's no secret Jefferson has to be on his A-game to avoid elimination. 

Jefferson must dominate the paint and win the battle down low on offense and on defense in order to significantly improve the Jazz's chances of winning. 


Los Angeles Clippers 

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 02:  Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 2, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Clippers would not be this far if it weren't for Chris Paul, so naturally, he is the key player for Los Angeles tonight.

Paul is averaging 22 points and nine assists during this series, and that type of production has to occur against the Grizzlies in Game 4.

A win tonight and the Clippers are one victory shy of reaching the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2006.


Memphis Grizzlies 

Rudy Gay has been on a tear for Memphis these past three games, averaging 21 points and six rebounds per contest. He'll have to keep it up or else Los Angeles will run away with this game. 

The two games that the Grizzlies lost in this series were by one point, so they know they're fully capable of beating the Clippers and advancing. However, they need Gay to be keep performing at a high level.

The Grizzlies are a talented team with top-notch players who can get the job done. Gay is their best scorer, so another strong outing from him and Memphis can even the series. 




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