LOS ANGELES – The Grizzlies are going home with a two-game deficit in the best-of-seven series against the Clippers. Here are three talking points to consider about their chances.
1. Defense will be critically important
The Grizzlies finally got the pace of the game more to their liking, holding the Clippers to fewer than 100 points and getting strong defensive play from their backcourt of Tony Allen and Mike Conley, who had two steals each.
After giving up 26, 24 and 25 points in the first three quarters, the Grizzlies shut down the Clippers in the fourth, yielding just 18 points.
But that included the game-winning basket by Chris Paul. In Memphis, the Grizzlies will have to make the game a half-court contest and not allow the Clippers to run.
“I thought we fought back,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “That’s what we’ve done, that’s how we play. We’ve always scratched and clawed and just stayed after it. We got down by 12, we fought our way back. We had a chance to win the game.”
They did it with defense. They’ll need to ratchet it up even more at home.
2. Offense is no small thing
Conley had a game-high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The Grizzlies’ strength is their rebounding and tough inside play, but if Conley can drive as he did Monday, it will help free Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to make offensive contributions.
The Grizzlies also need to get to the free-throw line. They had 34 foul shots in the game, making 23, compared to the Clippers’ 22 attempts.
And they had balanced scoring, with four of five starters in double figures. They don’t want to get in a fast-paced game against the Clippers, but they’ll need to make every possession count.
3. Home sweet home
The Grizzlies were one of the best home-court teams in the Western Conference, going 32-9 at FedEx Forum. They’ll need to be at their best returning to Memphis; losing even one of the next two games will probably allow the Clipper to end the series in five or six games.
“We’ve got to go home and hold serve,” Hollins said. “That’s what they did, and we almost got one here. It’s not doom and gloom. It was just a tough, hard-fought battle. We’ve got to go home, and there’s going to be two hard-fought battles there, and we’ve got to come away with two of them.”