Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers
Tip off: 10:30 PM EST
Spread: LAC -3.5
M/L: LAC -170, MEM +150
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
This game is a rematch between two teams that squared off in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Clippers won the series, just to move on and be swept by the Spurs. But these teams will look to continue to fight it out as contenders in the tougher of the two conferences. Either team in the East would be a top three team, but in the West, they met as four & five seeds.
For the Clippers, it was sweet being there. 2012 marked their first playoff appearance in six years and it is sure to be the start of many more with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin teamed up for the foreseeable future. In fact, had been Chauncey Billups been healthy for the postseason, it might have worked out far differently.
Billups is still injured, but the Clips have added a lot of depth with their acquisitions of Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, and Jamal Crawford (not to mention Matt Barnes and Ronny Turiaf). The veteran depth has Griffin feeling inspired the team can make some real noise this year.
“We’re up there with anybody. We can play with anybody. With our talent and depth, we can go toe to toe with whoever it is.”
Going toe to toe with the Grizzlies should prove challenging enough. The Grizz have one of the best front courts in the league, with Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Their backcourt is underrated and very good defensively, with Mike Conley manning the point and one the best perimeter defender in the league in Tony Allen.
So why hasn’t this Memphis team made more noise? Save pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in 2011 in the conference semis, the Grizzlies just haven’t been able to challenge the best in the west.
In 2011, they did it without Rudy Gay, and with him back in the fold in 2012, things didn’t change, as they fell to the team they are facing tonight in seven games. For Memphis to take the next step, they may need to alter their roster. It’s either that or Rudy Gay takes the next step and becomes a superstar.
Last year, the blame could be shifted to Zach Randolph’s injury, as he spent the majority of the year with a torn MCL, and he just wasn’t the same in the Playoffs. So, if it’s Gay one year, and Randolph the next, can the Grizzlies stay healthy enough to maximize their potential?
Tonight will provide a good look at these two fringe contenders and help establish which, if either, has the chance to make waves in the west and dethrone the Thunder as Western Conference champs.
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