No series features two incredibly talented teams with totally opposite styles of play such as this one. “Lob City” is the term used to describe the style of play and the pace that the Clippers play. It is in reference to the alley oop passing combinations of Chris Paul to both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Jordan likely provided the highlight of the season on an alley oop dunk that posterized Detroit Piston Brandon Knight. The Clippers are a “run and gun” team that struggles in the half court so it will be to their advantage to keep the game at their pace. They have received incredible play out of Paul all season long and will need him to be at his best if they want to advance. Griffin took some statistical steps back this season however a lot of that was due to the improved overall depth of the team and his ability to sit out 4th quarters as his team had big leads. He is a freak athletically and had shown the ability to hit the outside shot this season. The Clippers have great depth with veterans like Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, and Lamar Odom off the bench. No bench player was more productive than Jamal Crawford who has shined in the Clippers up-tempo system and was the second leading scorer amongst 6th men in the league this season.
While the Clippers feature an up-tempo attack the Grizzlies have a much different approach. They are built around the dominant interior tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Gasol is a tremendous passer who is able to work out of both the high and low post era. Randolph is simply a monster on the inside who is the opposite of Griffin. He plays the game below the rim. He finds ways to create space and score in the post regardless of who is guarding him. Point guard Mike Conley has quietly emerged as one of the better guards in the league. He has improved his ability to pass as well as become a strong outside shooter who punishes teams for double teaming his big men. Guard Tony Allen is the best defensive wing in the NBA and he creates many opportunities for teammates off of his defense. Veteran forward Tyshaun Prince provides the team with championship pedigree as well as his tremendous defensive abilities.
This series will come down to pace. The Clippers are not a traditional half court team and this matchup will prove to be very difficult for them. They will have to find a way to score in other ways other than dunks and transition if they want to win this series. The Grizzlies would prefer to play at a slower pace and take advantage of their superior post play. Conley will be the key as he must orchestrate the offense as well as defend Paul. His ability to keep Paul in check may help decide the series.
This should be a great series. Both teams will provide fans with fantastic plays and both will exhibit fantastic teamwork. In the end you have to be able to score in a slowdown pace in the playoffs and the Grizzlies excel in this area.
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