2012 NBA Playoff Predictions: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
Sunday, 4/29/12, 9:30 PM EST, TV:  TNT
Opening Point Spread:  Memphis -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Memphis -5.5
Opening Total:  185
Current Total:  183.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Los Angeles Clippers PF Blake Griffin gets his first taste of the NBA playoffs on Sunday

Los Angeles is making its first playoff berth since the 2005-06 campaign, ending the second longest active postseason drought in the NBA.  The Clippers had an opportunity to gain home-court advantage in this series, but elected to rest All-Star point guard Chris Paul in the final regular-season game, as he suffered a mild groin strain on Tuesday.  He averaged 19.8 points and 9.1 assists per game and appeared in 23 career playoff games during his time with the New Orleans Hornets.  Los Angeles is 4-7 as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points, with the “under” being 8-4 in that situation.

The Clippers have another major offensive weapon in power forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, as he gets set to make his postseason debut.  He was one of two players in the league to average 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds per game.  Los Angeles did a great job of taking care of the basketball with Paul in tow, finishing second in the league with just 13.33 turnovers per game.  The squad also registered the fifth-best mark (22-17) versus teams with a .500 or better record.

Memphis has won six straight games and 11 of its last 13 entering the playoffs, as the franchise managed to end the year tying a franchise record with 11 straight home wins.  The Grizzlies were 26-7 at the FedExForum this year, and was led by a defense that paced the league in steals.  “This team is built on defense,” stated Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo.  The squad also possesses one of the best front lines in basketball, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph manning the paint.  Memphis is 0-4 ATS when playing on two days rest.

The Grizzlies are led offensively by small forward Rudy Gay, who averaged a team-high 19.0 points, which ranked 17th in the league.  Memphis did drop two of three meetings to Los Angeles during the regular season, with all three games going “under” the total.  It’s important to note that it tallied a 94-85 victory as 4.5-point home favorites in the final meeting on April 9.  With Randolph’s help, the bench is one of the best in basketball, averaging 36.1 points over the final 18 games.

Bettors will likely back the Grizzlies due to their 4-1 ATS mark as a favorite in the playoffs, while the Clippers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games on three or more days of rest.

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