The Memphis Grizzlies were counting on big games from their big men in Game 6. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph delivered for the Grizzlies, and Hamed Haddadi fueled Memphis' fourth-quarter comeback with two big plays. After these big men came up big in Game 6, the Grizzlies will be hoping for more frontcourt magic in Game 7.
Gasol and Randolph were expected to come through for the Grizzlies in Game 6, and they did just that.
Gasol had a game-high 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, along with nine rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. The Spaniard scored nine points in the third quarter. With just over three minutes left, he dished it to Randolph for a dunk to give the Grizzlies an 87-82 advantage.
He had a solid offensive rating of 125 points per 100 possessions.
Randolph, who has progressively improved during the series, had his best game of the series. He had 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 16 rebounds and three blocks. His defensive rating of 94 points per 100 possessions was spectacular. His dunk with just over three minutes left all but sealed the deal.
Haddadi, who averaged 5.9 minutes per game in the regular season, was a pleasant surprise. One would have hardly thought that Lionel Hollins would have put Haddadi in during the fourth quarter, but apparently Hollins wanted to stop the bleeding after L.A. scored 28 points in the third quarter.
Haddadi made two big plays to spark the 10-0 run to put the Grizzlies in control. He blocked a shot by Reggie Evans, and then tipped in a missed free throw by Tony Allen to bring the Grizzlies within three.
Will the Grizzlies win Game 7?
Memphis will need Gasol and Randolph to come up big in Game 7. After containing Blake Griffin fairly well, they'll have to try to limit the injured power forward again. The key is keeping Griffin in front of them. If they can do that, they'll be able to keep him from dunking on them, as he is wont to do.
Rebounding will also be important. Gasol and Randolph combined for 25 rebounds, which is special, even for a pair that averaged a combined 22 rebounds per game in the playoffs last year. Randolph, who had a spectacular six offensive rebounds, will be called upon as usual to control the offensive boards.
Memphis will also count on them on the other end to ensure that the Clippers don't get any second-chance opportunities.
On the offensive end, Mike Conley will surely be looking for them. Gasol isn't that good on the road, and after keying a big road playoff win, he'll be spotted down low for scoring opportunities. He did great using his moves to get around defenders, and the Grizzlies will hope that he'll tool defenders again.
Randolph will also likely get his share of shots. Conley will likely be trying to set him up for jump shots.
Randolph and Gasol played 38 and 40 minutes, respectively, in Game 6. They'll likely be tabbed for around that amount of minutes to aid a winning effort in the decisive game.
If Haddadi and the other two backup big men for Memphis, Dante Cunningham and Marreese Speights, can put up nice numbers in quick spurts, that would be a great help.
Haddadi's specialty is grabbing as many rebounds as humanly possible in a couple minutes. He averaged 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. He'd be able to repeat his Game 6 performance if Hollins calls his name.
Speights could get a few rebounds while playing around 10 minutes, but he'll have to be careful since he had three fouls and two turnovers in Game 6.
As for the starters, fans should expect to see them play even bigger than they did in Game 6.
Gasol is a man alive in the FedEx Forum, and he'll show it in Game 7. Look for him to have a 20-and-10 affair with three blocks. Randolph will be strong on the boards, giving the Grizzlies second chances with his offensive rebounding prowess.
Big play from the big men will be a sizable factor for the Grizzlies in Game 7, and Gasol and Randolph won't sell their fans short in this decisive game.