GAME 1 FEATURED MATCHUP: CHRIS PAUL VS. MIKE CONLEY

Clippers vs. Grizzlies
Chris Paul vs. Mike Conley

One year ago, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies tangled in one of the most intense and hard-fought series of the 2011-12 postseason. The Clippers prevailed in seven games thanks in large part to their floor general, Chris Paul, who had an outstanding series. But Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had a solid series on the other side and has vastly improved his game this season, making the match up at the point a vital factor in deciding which team prevails the second time around.

CHRIS PAUL

Paul had one of the more efficient seasons of his eight-year career, shooting 48.1% from the field. It was the third best percentage of his career, made even more impressive considering he averaged just 33.4 minutes a game, the fewest of his tenure. He finished second in the NBA and first in the Western Conference with 9.7 assists per game and wreaked havoc on the defensive end, leading the NBA with a 2.4 steals per game average.

In three games against the Grizzlies during the regular season, Paul’s ability to take care of the ball proved to be the difference between a Clippers victory or defeat. In the two wins, Paul turned the ball over just four times and had a 4.25-to-1 assist to turnover ratio due in large part to his 12 assists on opening night.

In the lone loss to the Grizzlies at Staples Center, Paul lit up the scoreboard with 24 points but coughed the ball up five times. In last season’s playoff series he averaged 20.4 points and 7.1 assists per game.

Paul has tallied 20 career playoff double-doubles, including two against Memphis in 2012. The Clippers won both of those games.

MIKE CONLEY

Last season, Conley made quite the impression on the Clippers during their seven-game series, averaging 14.1 points and matching Paul’s 7.1 assists per game average. It was clearly a sign of things to come as Conley had a breakout season in 2012-13, playing in 80 games and setting a career high in scoring average with 14.6 points per game.

“Conley, I think, is very athletic and is really improved,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.

He led the NBA in total steals with 174, smashing his own previous franchise record of 144 during the 2010-11 season. He ranked third in the NBA with a 2.18 steals per game average and passed Jason Williams as the franchise’s career leader in assists and also surpassed Rudy Gay as the Grizzlies’ all-time steals leader.

Conley was particularly spectacular after the All Star Break, averaging 16.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 0.35 blocks a game on 46% shooting in 31 games.

Against the Clippers, the Grizzlies fate was directly tied to Conley’s performance. In the three losses, the sixth-year guard out of Ohio State struggled mightily just to score in double digits. He scored a combined 24 points in the three losses to the Clippers, reaching double-figures only once as he dropped 12 points on April 13 in Memphis. He shot a pedestrian 25% (8-for-32) in the losses and had a paltry 1.2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio.

In the lone victory at Staples Center, Conley performed more along the lines of what he was used to during the season as he dropped one of his seven double-doubles of the year with 17 points and 11 assists on 5-for-11 shooting. He turned the ball over just once and outplayed Paul down the stretch.

“Their team goes as he goes now,” Paul said.

On the season, the Grizzlies were 6-1 when Conley had a double-double and 13-4 when he scored at least 20 points.

ON THE MATCHUP

Paul: “Mike’s really good. He’s a lot more aggressive, obviously, now than he was last year and the year before that. I’ve known Mike for a while. I actually hosted Mike on his visit to Wake Forest when I was in college. I hosted him and Greg Oden, so I know his dad and his family really well. So, he’s a great player and it’s been unbelievable to see how much he gets better year in and year out.”

Paul vs. Conley 2012-13 Statistical Comparison

*Player Efficiency Rating – Overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. League average is 15.00 every season.

 

PPG

APG

AST-TO Ratio

RPG

FG%

3PT %

SPG

PER*

Chris Paul

16.9

9.7

4.26

3.7

.481

.328

2.4

26.43

Mike Conley

14.6

6.1

2.58

2.8

.440

.361

2.2

18.38