This game is already in the 2nd quarter so I won’t analyse this game, but I’ll go with Los Angeles taking this one when the final buzzer sounds.
I think the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. They are stacked from top to bottom at every position. The thing that separates them from a team like the Nuggets or the Pacers or 76’ers is that the Clippers have two superstars among them in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Surrounding them is a roster full of talented wing players and gritty interior guys like Grant Hill, Caron Butler, Willie Green, Jamal Crawford, and Lamar Odom. Backing up Chris Paul is Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups. Not only do I love the depth on this team but I like the mix between veterans and youngsters. That’s what could really take them to the next level this year. Last season they didn’t have that many experienced players and that’s why they were swept in the second round by the Spurs. Now they have guys who have been through the ups and downs of the NBA like Grant Hill, and Lamar Odom. I think another factor that will help the Clippers this year is that Blake Griffin has now experienced the playoffs. He knows what to expect now, last year he was a little starstruck but now he knows what the atmosphere is like, he knows the level of play and that will translate into more confidence when playoff time comes around. I think what this team needs to improve upon is their interior defense. Last season Reggie Evans was a big factor in their interior defense but now he’s in New Jersey. DeAndre Jordan is a shot blocker in this league but he and Griffin have to work on their help defense and altering shots sometimes instead of jumping constantly to try and block everything. I hope Chauncey Billups is healthy this season because not only does he provide a veteran presence and invaluable experience but he provides some three point shooting to spread the floor. The team lacks shooters, which may hurt them down the line. Willie Green can shoot and CP3 can shoot but besides that there aren’t many guys to spread the floor for them. Hopefully someone can step up this season from behind the arc. This team has to continue to break this season, they have the best finisher and the best passer so with the athletes on this team there is no excuse to be slowing down and taking their time. They’re unstoppable in the open court. What I worry about is if this team will be able to get consistent stops, they don’t have such a defensive minded culture and they don’t have the players to become a suffocating defensive team.
For the Grizzlies I think they have to continue to do what they do best. Be gritty, get in on it on defense and get their bigs the ball. They have always been among the league leaders in steals and that’s partly because they have such a great mindset as a team to just suffocate teams on defense. Also, they have the players to do it. Tony Allen and Michael Conley are always among the top in steals per game. They also boast two of the best offensive big men in the league in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, which is why I say get it to the bigs. When the bigs get in a rhythm it takes pressure off of the perimeter and it also makes them want to play defense which completes the defensive scheme that starts with the perimeter guys. Memphis has one of the best home courts in the NBA and I predict them to have one of the best home records this year. The key for them is to keep their home-court and make that a place that opposing teams fear. I like the acquisitions that the Grizzlies made this offseason in bringing Jerryd Bayless because I think he’ll provide a great spark off the bench at the point guard position. I’m not a fan of not re-signing OJ Mayo, he may have been overpaid but he provided a lot of points when it was needed for this team. He was their scorer off the bench and really spread the floor for them from behind the arc. They lack that this season and I worry about how they’re going to get their offense and how easy it will be. I’m sure they’ll be ok if Rudy Gay can turn it up this season and become an all-star player once again.