NBA Playoffs: How the Memphis Grizzlies Could Defeat the Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers ousted the Grizzlies in seven very competitive games in last year's playoffs, but both rosters look much different.
The Grizzlies traded away versatile, but inefficient forward Rudy Gay for an aging Tayshaun Prince and a couple of young, role-playing big men off the bench.
On the other hand, the Clippers' bench looks very different, with key acquisitions Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes and an improving Eric Bledsoe leading the way. On paper, the Clippers' roster seems to have improved much more than the Grizzlies' roster.
This slideshow will evaluate the keys for the Grizzlies to overcome the surging Clippers.
Contain Chris Paul
He came to the Clippers in 2011 and turned around a franchise that had spent years mired in mediocrity.
In order for the Grizzlies to win this playoff series, it starts and ends with how well they could contain the best point guard in the league. Paul is leading the Clippers to the fourth highest offensive efficiency in the league (per Hollinger's Team Stats).
Mike Conley is one of the better perimeter defenders at his position, but it will take a total team effort to stop Paul's offensive genius.
The Grizzlies have the second highest defensive efficiency in the league, but Paul's ability to find cracks and openings in the opposing team's defense is what makes him such a lethal playmaker. Paul will get his numbers either way, but the Grizzlies must try their best to limit his effectiveness.
Bench Players Must Step Up
This is for you Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis and Quincy Pondexter.
According to Hoops Stats, the Clippers bench is fourth in the league in points per game with 40.1 during the regular season, while the Grizzlies bench is just 27th in the league in scoring with 27.7 points per game.
The Clippers' exceptional depth and the Grizzlies lack of it would make this matchup even more entertaining to watch.
However, it's not like the Grizzlies' bench players are lacking in the talent department. Bayless has proven to be a valuable contributor this year, and the ever-improving Ed Davis has produced at a high level in multiple games this season.
It's unfortunate that one of the Clippers' biggest strengths is also the Grizzlies' biggest weakness. They will need their bench players to step up in every game in this series, or else they would find themselves struggling to score and defend against the plethora of weapons on the Clippers' roster.
Pound the Paint
The Clippers' defense has been vastly underrated this season, and their two big men—Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan—have taken major strides in their respective games.
However, the Grizzlies' front-court duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combine to form one of the best big-men tandems in the league.
Together, Randolph and Gasol led the Grizzlies to the eighth most points in the paint per game out of any other team in the league. They have the talent and skill advantage over Griffin and Jordan, but they can't compete in the athleticism department.
In order for the Grizzlies to win a seven-game series, Randolph and Gasol must perform at the highest level possible. They are a subpar jump shooting team and one of the worst beyond the three-point line, so they will need to take advantage of their dominant frontcourt as much as they can.