Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 9:00 PM
It’s definitely going to be a playoff rematch when the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday Night in NBA action. It’s also a likely playoff preview given how the current standings are shaping up in the Western Conference. And, because both teams are still fighting for the right to earn home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, THIS game should have a playoff feel to it.
With that in mind…let’s treat it like a playoff game! We’ll run the matchup through our ringer of indicator stats. That will serve as a preview for tonight’s huge encounter, while also serving as a preview for a likely first round series matching the 4-5 seeds in the vaunted Western Conference.
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
LA Clippers: #4 in the NBA
Memphis: #18 in the NBA
Getting rid of Rudy Gay helped the Memphis offense significantly. They ranked much worse than this with him. But, now his poor shot selection, poor passing, and turnover tendencies are up in Toronto for the time being. Memphis now plays a much cleaner game, and ranks close to league average for the year. That means they’re better than average since the trade. The Clippers have an elite offense let by Chris Paul and a host of dunkers and free throw attractors. Edge here to the Clips…but it’s not as big as it used to be.
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
LA Clippers: #9 in the NBA
Memphis: #2 in the NBA
Memphis plays fantastic defense. They’re basically the Louisville of the NBA if you were following our March Madness coverage. They guard the basket while forcing a lot of turnovers, which is a tough combination to pull off at a high level (you usually sacrifice one to be good at the other). The Clippers are a top 10 defense themselves, but are the lesser of the two sides in his category. Tonight’s game, and a projected playoff series could turn into a defensive war.
REBOUND RATE RANKINGS
LA Clippers: #6 in the NBA
Memphis: #2 in the NBA
Great rebounding from both teams, as the bigs really shine in the fundamentals. This category is often a tie-breaker in a playoff series. Here, it’s just something else the teams are both good at.
LA Clippers: #18 in the NBA
Memphis: #28 in the NBA
Memphis is one of the slowest teams in the league, confident in their ability to score out of halfcourt sets on one end…while preventing buckets on the other. The Clippers are league average in pace, tending to only run when an obvious dunk opportunity is there. In terms of playoff-style basketball, this may favor the Grizzlies. Playoff games slow down anyway. That’s right in their comfort zone. The Clippers may need to attack more to create easy scoring opportunities for themselves.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
LA Clippers: 25-17
Memphis: 23-17 (pending late Friday finisher at Houston)
Once again…very even. Note that the Clippers are drifting back a bit after a great start, while Memphis is better since the Gay trade. But, if the Clippers were just pacing themselves down the stretch so they’d be ready for the playoffs…then a gradual fade won’t matter much. They’ll be back to peak intensity soon enough.
The combination of indicators is smiling more on Memphis than the Clippers in terms of what usually wins in the playoffs. The Grizzlies have an edge in defense and rebounding, and are used to a slower pace. The Clippers would grade out better against other playoff teams. This is a tough draw for them. Though, if you assume the bigs are going to come close to cancelling out…then Chris Paul could end up being the difference-maker. Memphis will have trouble cancelling him out!
JIM HURLEY is paying rapt attention to the playoff bound teams this weekend. He may have a big play in this one…but will DEFINITELY have a big play on the Saturday ticket in either basketball or baseball. You can purchase that BLOCKBUSTER right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about NETWORK service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
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