The Clippers used a win over the Sacramento Kings on the final night of the regular season to clinch home-court advantage for this opening-round meeting, as opposed to last year when Memphis had home-court advantage against the Clippers.
Here is a complete breakdown of the first-round matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies.
What You Need To Know
Seeds: Memphis Grizzlies No. 5; Los Angeles Clippers No. 4
Records: Memphis Grizzlies 56-26; Los Angeles Clippers 56-26
Season series: Los Angeles Clippers won 3-1
Playoff schedule: Game 1 Saturday, April 20, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), Game 2 Monday, April 22, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT), Game 3 Thursday, April 25, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT), Game 4 Saturday, April 27, 4:30 p.m. ET (TNT), Game 5 Tuesday, April 30 TBD, Game 6 Friday, May 3 TBD, Game 7 Sunday, May 5 TBD
Biggest Key For The Clippers: Jamal Crawford
A good sixth man off the bench is an invaluable asset for a basketball team, especially when the playoffs come around. Jamal Crawford is one of the best, if not the best, sixth man in the NBA, and his impact off the bench will be instrumental to the Clippers' success.
Crawford averaged 16.5 points per game for the Clippers off the bench this season, and he posted a huge game in the Clippers' first meeting with Los Angeles, as he totaled 29 points over the course of 30 minutes of play.
With strong starting rotations on each side of the ball in this series, Crawford is an essential piece that could be the difference for Los Angeles. If he can provide quality and productive minutes off the bench, the Clippers will be very difficult to beat.
Biggest Key For The Grizzlies: Finish The Game
The Grizzlies' inability to close out games is what cost them the series against the Clippers last spring in the first round of the playoffs. Memphis ranks first in points allowed this season, but their offense ranks 27th in the league in points per game. Down the stretch against the Clippers last season, Memphis' inability to produce a reasonable amount of points in the fourth quarter cost them some valuable games.
In Game 1, the Grizzlies held a 27-point lead against the Clippers, but only managed to score 13 points in the final quarter and ended up losing 99-98. In Game 3, the Grizzlies held a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but could only manage to score 15 points and once again lost to the Clippers by a single point. In Game 7, the Grizzlies trailed Los Angeles by a point at halftime, but they managed only 18 points in the third quarter and 16 points in the final quarter.
Now, part of this low scoring is who the Grizzlies are. They are a strong defensive team that does not produce a ton of offense, but if they want to advance past the Clippers this time around, they will have to find a way to generate a little more offense in the closing minutes and not give up big leads that they have already established.
Key Matchup: Blake Griffin vs. Zach Randolph
What a fun matchup this will be to watch. Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph battling it out in the post for seven games will surely draw some attention to this series.
Griffin and Randolph are each two of the better power forwards in the NBA, so watching them square of in the series will not only be fun to watch, but will also be essential in determining who wins the series.
Both players are known for their consistency night in and night out, so the winner will be the guy who can rise above and beyond what he normally produces each night.
Which guy can step up and have the big night when his team needs him the most on the offensive and defensive side of the ball?
Should we expect anything different then what we saw when these teams met up last year?
Probably not. The Clippers and Grizzlies have identical records at 56-26 each and with a seven-game series already under their belt from last season, we can expect more of the same this season.
The Clippers proved they are the superior team by winning three of the four regular-season matchups, and they will once again prove their superiority by advancing over the Grizzlies in what should be a great series.
Clippers In Seven Games