PREGAME REPORT | APRIL 22, 2013
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PT | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »
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One down, 15 to go.
The Los Angeles Clippers (56-26, 1-0) began the ultimate quest for the NBA title with an emphatic first step after pulling away in the fourth quarter for a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies and will look to protect the home court advantage they fought so hard for in the last week of the regular season when the two teams take the floor for Game 2 Monday night at Staples Center.
“Definitely want to come out and set the tone early in the series,” Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford said after the Game 1. “The crowd was great and into it from the start and we’ll try to repeat it on Monday.”
The Clippers have won four of the five matchups between the two teams this season and five of the last six dating back to last year’s Game 7 victory at FedEx Forum. The Clippers have also won eight consecutive games dating back to April 3.
“Everybody in the playoffs right now, the only winning streak they have is one game,” Chris Paul said after Sunday’s practice. “The regular season means absolutely nothing now. It’s all about right now."
LAST TIME OUT
Seven players scored in double figures including three off the bench as the second unit had an outstanding night and proved that rotations don’t always have to be shortened in the playoffs. Eric Bledsoe took over in the fourth quarter as he scored 13 of his 15 points on 6-fo-6 shooting in the final 12 minutes. The Clippers also crushed the Grizzlies in the rebounding department with a 47-23 edge and a 25-5 advantage in second chance points.
|GAME 2 FEATURED MATCHUP: BLAKE GRIFFIN VS. ZACH RANDOLPH
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Rolling at Home. During their current eight-game winning streak, the Clippers have won five of them in the comfort of Staples Center and none of those games have been close.
Counting Game 1, the Clippers are averaging 110.2 points a game at Staples Center in that stretch and have won those games by an average of 18.4 points. They’ve scored 100-plus points in four of those wins and six of their last nine games. In Game 1, the Clippers were just the fifth team this season to score more than 100 points against the Grizzlies and are the only team to have done it multiple times.
“We’re just protecting our home court and we’ll try to do it again on Monday,” Crawford said.
Adjustments. In the playoffs, adjustments mean everything as evidenced by the Clippers victory in Game 1. Head coach Vinny Del Negro went to a three-guard lineup featuring Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups, and Chris Paul that had never set foot on the floor together prior to Saturday night.
The adjustment paid off huge dividends as the trio helped the Clippers extend an 11-point lead to 19 points to put the game safely out of reach.
“What happens in playoff games, you never go into a game knowing what you’re going to do,” Paul said. “You have to be ready to change and make adjustments.”
But with the Grizzlies needing just one victory to steal home-court advantage, Monday night’s game should see the visitors do whatever is necessary to pull return to Memphis with the series tied 1-1, which could include more playing time to Jerryd Bayless.
“We let him get going early with some open shots, digging in the post a lot,” Del Negro said. “He hit a couple shots and got going. He had a 3-point play. We just lost him a few times. We’ve got to find him a little bit better and make it a little harder on him.”
The backup guard was the Grizzlies only source of consistent offense as he scored 19 points off the bench on 6-for-12 shooting including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc to keep the Grizzlies in striking distance through three quarters.
“They’ll watch some tape and adjust,” Crawford said. “They’re a veteran group over there. Obviously they have a veteran coach and some really good players so they’ll adjust."
Only 16 teams have ever come back from an 0-2 deficit in a seven-game playoff series with the last being the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year’s Western Conference Finals…Paul and Mike Conley finished first and third respectively in steals this season and both continued to police the passing lanes in Game 1 with two steals apiece… The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 48-46 in points in the paint on Saturday night. Both teams were ranked eighth and fifth respectively in that category during the regular season… The Clippers/Braves are 3-5 all-time in Game 2s, including going 0-2 last season in losses to the Grizzlies and Spurs.