These teams have played eight games against each other this season and ten times last year after a seven-game playoff series. Both sides know what the other wants to do. The only thing keeping the Clippers from advancing to the next round is execution.
First, the Clippers need to find a way to control the offensive and defensive glass. Memphis finished 11th in the league in total rebounding, mainly because of its size in the frontcourt with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Meanwhile, the Clippers finished 18th in total rebounding. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both are average to above-average rebounders, but unless they focus on hitting the glass, the Clippers are going to struggle against Memphis.
In the Clippers’ two wins this series against Memphis, they finished plus-two and plus-24 on the glass. However, in their two losses, Memphis won the rebounding, battle plus-17 and plus-12.
The Clippers must put in better overall effort on the glass against the Grizzlies, and that starts with Jordan and Griffin. Take a look at the video below.
One major problem facing the Clippers is keeping Randolph from gaining good post position. In this play, Randolph is able to come down the floor and establish position right on the block with ease. This is because of the action being run out at the three-point line.
Memphis overloads one side of the floor and the threat of Marc Gasol draws the attention of Blake Griffin, who must step up to defend Gasol. This allows Randolph to duck into the paint and gain position on Chris Paul, who had to switch due to the immediate rub-and–ball screen action at the beginning of the play.
The Grizzlies’ early action in their sets makes it difficult for the Clippers to set their defense. Once Tony Allen attacks off the dribble, Randolph sneaks into the space Griffin had to leave to help on defense.
This is a common theme that the entire defense needs to react to.
Griffin has to do a better job of pushing Randolph off the block and not allowing him to sit down in the paint. The rest of the defenders need to see the pre-play rubs coming and fight around them so the Clippers are not forced to switch.
Secondly, the Clippers know that Memphis excels in a slow tempo, half-court game. The Clippers were at their best in Games 1 and 2, because they were able to dictate the tempo and outrun Memphis’ defense.
The Clippers’ bench has been great at extending or creating leads all season long. According to Hoopsstats, the Clippers’ bench finished first in defensive efficiency, second in efficiency and third in points per game.
Los Angeles’ bench needs to create turnovers and leak out into transition to speed up Memphis’ reserves and provide support for the resting Clippers’ starters. It is by far the Clippers’ biggest advantage of the series and needs to be used as such.
Overall, both teams know exactly what the other wants to do on offense and defense.
The Clippers were able to win the rebounding battle and slowed down Gasol and Randolph in Games 1 and 2. It was no surprise that Los Angeles was able to win because of that.
As the series shifts into a best-of-three battle, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan need to control the backboards, the Clippers' bench needs to get out in transition and force turnovers and the defense needs to revert back to the one that finished eighth in defensive efficiency.
Execution is the only difference between the Clippers winning and losing this series.