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Preview: Grizzlies at Clippers

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Grizzlies head to L.A. tonight to close the regular season, and there’s a chance they could be back at STAPLES center to open the postseason.

A win tonight against the Clippers would give the Grizzlies a fighting chance at the seventh seed— which would ensure a playoff matchup with either the Lakers or Dallas Mavericks—should the Hornets fall to the Mavs tonight. A loss or Hornets win would keep the Grizzlies where they’re currently slotted, in the eighth overall spot with a matchup vs. top-seeded San Antonio forthcoming.

It’s anybody’s guess how the Western Conference playoff picture will unfold, but here are a few guesses as to how the Grizzlies/Clippers game might play out tonight.

Jumping at the Chance
The Grizzlies are looking to avenge a home loss to the Clippers just over one week ago, when L.A. squeaked out an 82-81 victory after a bizarre sequence unfolded at the end of the game. With 5.7 seconds left to play, a double foul was called when the Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe barreled into Tony Allen just tenths of a second before the shot clock expired. One official whistled a charge while another signaled a blocking foul, which led to a jump ball at center court after a delay of several minutes. Los Angeles controlled the tip and was able to run out the clock for the win, capping a 13-point comeback at FedExForum.

Rest out West
With the sixth seed on the line, the Grizzlies rested starters Tony Allen and Zach Randolph in Portland last night, allowing the pair to recover from nagging injuries. The Grizz fell to the Trail Blazers, giving Portland the sixth spot in the West’s field of eight, in the process deciding that the health of their squad was more important than who they play or how they’re seeded. Said Head Coach Lionel Hollins:
“Tony’s hurt. I didn’t want to play Zach these last two games because I want to get him some rest and get him healthy. He banged his elbow the other night. Tony’s knee swelled up. He would have played if I would have let him but I don’t know how effective he would have been.” A knee injury to Andrew Bynum in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs last night reiterated the importance of maintaining a healthy squad heading into the postseason, so expect limited minutes from the starters again tonight.

Haddadi Time
If the Grizzlies do in fact give their starters a little more rest tonight, Hamed Haddadi could be the beneficiary as he was in Portland last night. Haddadi made the most of his opportunity, tying a career-high with 10 rebounds and tallying nine points and eight of those boards in the fourth quarter alone. Big men are hard to come by, particularly in the postseason, making it vital that Haddadi stay ready when his name is called.