The Grizzlies are looking to become just the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series.
MOMENTUM BACK TO MEMPHIS
Momentum can be a precious, yet dangerous entity in these NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies certainly have all of it now though after winning game 5 in Memphis and holding on to win game 6 last night in L.A.
With their backs against the wall, the Grizzlies walked in to Staples Center and gave an all-around effort on both sides of the court.
Despite struggling early on in this series, all-star center Marc Gasol has flipped the switch these past few games and has really carried the Grizzlies offense when they needed it most. He finished game 6 with a team-leading 23 points on 9 for 16 shooting. He also added 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Gasol has been more aggressive as of late when given the basketball down low near the rim. His new-found confidence in this series has led to positive results for the Grizzlies.
Zach Randolph was also an effective presence in the paint for Memphis as the big man finished with a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds (6 offensive). Fortunately for Randolph, his key free-throw misses down the stretch didn’t come back to bite Memphis in the end. However, that shouldn’t take away from the strong game 6 performance that he had. As I’ve mentioned before, when Randolph and Gasol are the focal points on offense, the Grizzlies are a better basketball team because of it.
In an uncharacteristic fashion, the Grizzlies turned the ball over 20 times, including 13 in the first half. Memphis had just 12 in all of game 5. They were sloppy with their passes at times and lackadaisical with the ball, but the teams strong showing on defense (elaborated on below) was able to cover up that major flaw in this game.
The all-important game 7 will now take place on Sunday in Memphis. As predicted, the late-season collapse that cost the Clippers home-court advantage may now indeed come back to screw them over in the end.
CLIPPERS IN TROUBLE
Clippers guard Mo Williams said at the end of game 5 that game 6 in Los Angeles would be the teams de facto game 7(that’s a lot of numbers I know). By the looks of things, the rest of his teammates must not have gotten the message.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were both medically cleared to play, but it was clear as day that neither man was playing at full strength. Both of the Clippers superstars didn’t make much of an impact in this one.
Well…I suppose Griffin did have his moments.
Blake finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 6 for 11 shooting. Paul chipped in 11 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists of his one. While the box scores show fairly impressive numbers for the two, I still expected to see more from the Clippers dynamic duo in a playoff series closeout game. To be fair, the injuries they both suffered in game 5 had to be holding them back.
If the Clippers lost this game during a specific juncture or timeframe last night, it was in the first half. The team shot a pathetic 37% from the field, 16% from long distance and 33% from the charity stripe. If not for the collective efforts in the first 2 quarters from key bench players in Reggie Evans (4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), Kenyon Martin (4-5 shooting, 8 points, 2 rebounds) and Eric Bledsoe (6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), this game could have been easily won for Memphis in the first 24 minutes of action.
Los Angeles is seeking just its third playoff series victory in franchise history. Reaching that goal became all the more difficult with their loss last night at home.
Game 7….here we come.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
‘We were very focused on our task defensively and that’s a big reason we won. We were way more disciplined. The whole team is doing a better job of finding me in the post.” – Grizzlies center Marc Gasol
”Right now is not the time to start pointing the finger.” - Clipper forward Blake Griffin
TWEET OF THE GAME
every time Marc Gasol makes a good play I picture Kobe texting Pau: “See? SEE?”
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 12, 2012
- I never knew a “high 5″ was considered such a rude act. To think, I’ve been giving people high 5′s for years. I’m sorry everyone. Stupid call? I think so.
- #FlopCity . I hate flopping with a passion! The Clippers do this every single game and its frustrating me to no end.
- The Memphis Grizzlies had a 2 point lead with 3.5 seconds left and the Clippers….didn’t foul? They didn’t match up on defense and allowed Mike Conley to dribble out the clock. Yep, that makes sense. At least if you foul and they miss their freebies, you give yourself a chance to hoist up a three at the end of the game to tie. Stupid coaching to a tee.
Game 7: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers, Sunday May 13th – 1:00 pm, ABC
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports