Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Grizz Grizz

Ground and Pound
Tonight in Los Angeles, for the first time in the series, the road team won, setting up Memphis for a closeout game... but honestly, this was the closeout game. The Clippers never truly threatened, despite getting a huge amount of home court calls and a game for the ages from Chris Paul. The Grizz won without anyone really playing all *that* great, though Zach Randolph's game was pretty dominant. The Clipper crowd did all it could, the bench players that won't show up on the road gave real effort... but, well, this series has simply come down to the fact that good big men score a lot more easily and consistently than good small men, and the Clipper guards aren't so much better than the Grizz guards.

If you want to find goats here, it's the Clipper bigs. Blake Griffin wasn't holding his own due to the lack of rebuilding before he suffered a high ankle sprain; tonight, he was less effective on the floor than Lamar Odom or Ronnie Turiaf, which is to say, he was someone you could not put on a professional basketball floor.

DeAndre Jordan is being completely exposed in this series by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. You'd think that with his length and leaping ability, not to mention the big past shot blocking numbers, that Jordan wouldn't be such a sieve on Zebo, but that's just not the case. Randolph's just far too crafty to be stopped by sheer athleticism, and Jordan's getting so crushed by Gasol that even when he's off the floor with foul trouble, his mind is still not in the game enough to help his team. When Odom is your best idea at 5, and he's got to somehow operate against the Defensive Player of the Year at one end, and a shooter with range, post moves and passing ability on the other end... well, you're going to lose.

The Clippers still have Paul, and he's still the best player on the court... but Paul's also been very fallible in Memphis, and he just played an amazing game tonight, at home, and never got closer than two possessions in the fourth. This one's over, and if the Grizz keep playing like this, they are also going to handle the Thunder in the next round. (And might have even if Russell Westbrook was still playing.)

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