This is obviously a must-win game for the Grizzlies, because it could be the last game of their season. But the importance of this game for the Clippers cannot be overstated as well. They have the San Antonio Spurs potentially looming for them in the next round, and the Spurs just made quick work of the Jazz in 4 games and appear fully playoff ready.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have had much stiffer competition against a Grizzlies team that upset San Antonio in the first round last year, and if they are able to win in 5 games and carry both momentum, being well-rested, and playoff intensity basketball into the next round, then they will have a much better shot at winning than if they slip in on Game 6 or 7.
Lionel Hollins implied after the first quarter of Game 4 that Chris Paul was flopping, and it will be interesting to see how Paul reacts on the court to what appears to be the one coach in the league who can be out-coached by the not exactly elite-level coach Vinny Del Negro. Hollins could have double-teamed Paul, especially in overtime after Blake Griffin fouled out; but he didn’t, and the Grizzlies dropped a third game in which they were winning at some point in the 4th quarter.
In the series, the Grizzlies have actually gotten fewer foul calls and more free throws than the Clippers, but that wasn’t the case last game, when the Clippers got many members of the other team in foul trouble.
It’s do or die for the Grizzlies, and for the Clippers: their execution in this game could determine how confident and well-rested they are about potentially going against the #1 seed in the West.