NBA Playoffs 2013 Round 1, Game 5:
Memphis Grizzlies 103 – Los Angeles Clippers 93
MEM: Zach Randolph – 25 points, 11 rebounds
LAC: Chris Paul – 35 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Series 3-2 Memphis
One thing is for sure: Nick Young , Reggie Evans or Kenyon Martin ain’t walking through that door.
And if he did it probably wouldn’t matter. As good as Chris Paul is, he can’t defeat the Memphis Grizzlies by himself. His partner in crime Blake Griffin played almost all of 6 minutes in the second half and when he did he gave the Clippers absolutely nothing. Outside of Paul no one else gave the him any help to help combat the offense the Grizzlies came with tonight. Jamal Crawford scored 15 points, but it took him 14 shots to get there.
The first quarter things went well. The Clippers kept it at their pace constantly running the floor and despite being up 28-26 it felt like tonight was one of those nights for Los Angeles. In the second quarter the wheels began falling off the wagon. The crutch that the this team relied on in games 1 and 2, their bench, failed to make the push they usually make when the unit enters the game. And that has become a huge problem since game 2: the bench hasn’t been good. Usually when the starters play is mediocre, the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes pick up where they leave off, but it hasn’t been that way. The supporting starters haven’t came up with their part of the bargain either. Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups combining for 8 points in 31 combined minutes. This isn’t a series winning combination.
Despite losing by ten, the Clippers got it close several times in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t do enough to make it tit-for-tat at the end. When Marc Gasol wasn’t hitting go-ahead shots it was Zach Randolph. When Z-Bo wasn’t hitting the go-ahead shots it was Tayshaun Prince. The Grizz starting frontcourt combined for 25 points in the final quarter which was three less points than the Clippers scored in the quarter. The make-shift lineup that Vinny Del Negro dealt out there couldn’t handle those three. It’s becoming a trend of the past four games that the Memphis frontcourt can’t be handled by Los Angeles, but with each game it’s becoming more aware. DeAndre Jordan‘s playing minimal minutes, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins aren’t capable of playing heavy minutes on a “serious contender” and Lamar Odom is entirely too small to matchup with Randolph/Gasol.
And despite missing out on a chance to sit in the drivers seat of this series, the real issue is the health of star Blake Griffin.
Blake Griffin’s ankle is really swollen and purple. Needed support of chair to balance on it while getting dressed.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 1, 2013
If Griffin isn’t 85 percent or higher by Game 6 this Clippers team may not stand a chance heading into Memphis. Offensively isn’t the issue. His presence on the floor makes things much easier for the rest of the team, but against the best forward/center in the league Griffin needs to be at his best. Of course he isn’t an all-world defender like Kevin Garnett or Larry Sanders, but him being to hold position and attack the Grizzlies on the boards matter one hundred percent. This team can’t make up for his scoring either. Chris Paul may be able to score 35 a game, but it’ll take an outlier performance from a few people on the team to make up for his overall impact.
Game 6 will be something to watch. We know Chris Paul isn’t gonna go down fighting. It’s not in his mentality. But the rest of the team is highly questionable. This isn’t the same Memphis team from last year. There’s no Rudy Gay to mess up the flow of things and Zach Randolph, obviously, is much healthier at this point. They’re going into a hostile environment that absolutely hates this team. It’ll be interesting to see how they react to the circumstances because it could be the last game they play of the season.