GAME 3 SHOOT-AROUND REPORT: CLIPPERS LOOK FORWARD TO ROAD TEST
MEMPHIS – The back drop behind Chris Paul as he sat courtside in front of more than a dozen reporters inside FedEX Forum Thursday morning was a seemingly endless tower of yellow towels draped over every seat in the arena.
They read “Believe Memphis” in navy blue and serve as somewhat of a welcome to the “Grindhouse” for the Clippers as they prepare for Game 3. Paul’s seen the towels before, when they were distributed for four Grizzlies home games in the playoffs last year.
He said he expects it to be a wild atmosphere at 8:30 p.m. Central Time, towels swirling and the volume level at a deafening pitch. But those are the situations this Clippers team loaded with playoff-wise veterans was built for.
“I think with our team we've tried to become a better road team all together, regardless of where we play just understanding those hostile situations should bring out the best in us,” Paul said.
“This is where you start to build some of your identity. You want to build it throughout the regular season, but in the postseason you feel that hunger and that passion when you play on the road it’s when you really face adversity.”
The Clippers, who at 24-17 on the road this season were No. 3 in the NBA, have established a road identity that borders on defiance. Jamal Crawford said the silence of the road crowd is something that helps get him going and Blake Griffin said he feels like the group thrives when they are in an arena that is seemingly entirely against them.
“The louder the crowd, the more stuff that’s said the more fun it is,” Griffin said at shoot-around. “We look forward to playing in environments like this.”
Crawford is among those who has played well in those environments. He scored 20 points or more in 18 of the team’s 41 regular-season road games and has six 20-point games on the road in the playoffs in his career. Thursday night in Memphis will be his first postseason road game with the Clippers.
“I think the whole city will be behind them and it’s just us 15 out there and that’s always fun if you can come out on top in those adverse situations,” Crawford said.
THEY SAID IT
On the bench being successful on the road and at home:
Crawford: “I feel like we’re the best bench in the league and we’ve played everywhere. Even starting in China this year, on the road and at home, we’re comfortable anywhere. We feel like that’s one of the advantages of our team and it’s why we didn’t shorten the rotation or anything.”
On the physicality of series:
Griffin: “I like when games are physical. You know it’s going to be a physical game coming in and I look forward to it. This is fun.”