A must win Game 3 saw Memphis come out in desperate fashion to ensure that this first round playoff series would not result in a sweep. So far neither team has been able to steal a game on the road, which is a good thing for the Grizzlies going into Game 4 in FedExForum. The Grizzlies are 32-9 at home this season, proving that The Grindhouse is one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to win in the NBA.
The last thing Memphis wants to do is go back to Staples Center down 3-1. A Game 4 loss would mean the Grizzlies would have to win twice in L.A. where they are just 2-8 against the Clippers the past two seasons including the playoffs (1-4 against the Clippers on the road in the playoffs).
Game 4 is another must win game for Memphis, and here is a look at 5 Things the Grizzlies must do to even this series up:
1). Contain Chris Paul
This is a feat that is easier said than done. After all, CP3 is a four time All-NBA selection, and capable of taking over a game during pivotal stretches (like he did in Game 2). However, Memphis showed in Game 3 that it is not impossible to slow down the six time All Star. He was averaging 19.2 points and 8.4 assists in five games against the Memphis this year, but he was held to just eight points and four assists in the Grizzlies Game 3 victory. It was the first time this year Memphis held Paul to single digit points, and rendered him ineffective for most of the contest. There were multiple defenders around him all night long, which disrupted the Clippers pick and roll offense (something that they were able to run extremely well in the first two games of the series). If the Grizzlies plan to even the series, slowing down Paul has to be at the top of their to do list.
2). Win the battle in the paint
No surprises here, especially considering Memphis is 0-3 against the Clippers this season when L.A. outscores the Grizzlies in the paint. Memphis is shooting a woeful 28.3 percent from behind the arc, and 43.5 percent from the field in this playoff series, which makes getting good shots from in the lane all the more important. In Game 3, the Grizz did a great job of dominating the paint, outscoring the Clippers by 14 points in that category. They were led by Zach Randolph who finished the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds, for his first double-double of the series.
3). Get quality minutes from the bench
The much maligned Memphis bench got a boost from Quincy Pondexter in Game 3, and they will need to replicate their overall effort to beat L.A. in Game 4. The Clippers have one of the best benches in the league, and outscoring them is not something that happens too often. However, nobody is asking the Grizzlies bench players to do that. The only thing they need to do is give Coach Hollins quality and mistake free minutes, so that the starters can rest and be ready for the inevitable late game push.
4). Continue feeding Zach Randolph
It is simple, he is the All-Star on the team, and the most dangerous scorer on the team, so your best option is to make sure he gets plenty of touches. Z-Bo had 18 field goal attempts in game three after having just 20 combined in games one and two. He has been extremely efficient in the series and is shooting 53 percent from the field, which is all the more reason to get him the ball in scoring position. Randolph has to do his part also and create scoring opportunities for himself in the form of offensive rebounds (He had six Thursday after having four combined in the first two games of the series). Another big game from Randolph would certainly improve the probability this series goes back to L.A. nodded up at two games apiece.
5). Hold the Clippers under 90 points
Memphis had the best defense in the NBA this season, allowing opponents to average just 89.3 points per game. However, L.A. is averaging just under 95 points per game against Memphis this year, which is well over the Grizzlies season average. In fact, the seven times these two teams have met this year, the Grizzlies have allowed the Clippers to score more than 90 points five times. All of these times have resulted in losses for Memphis (subsequently Memphis held the Clippers under 90 points in both of their victories this season). Holding the Clippers under 90 points means that the Grizzlies are controlling the tempo by not turning the ball over, securing rebounds (both offensive and defensive), and not giving up easy buckets in transition.
CJ Hurt covers NBA basketball for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games.
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