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(4) Los Angeles Clippers versus (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Regular season series: 3-1 Clippers
This is a close to wrestling the NBA is gonna get. These two teams hate each other and aren’t afraid to show. After going 7 games in round 1 with the Clippers pulling away, expect it to be close again. Which the clashing of styles, run-and-gun in LA and grit-and-grind in Memphis, whoever is best at forcing the tempo will have the biggest advantage. Of course, in a superstars league, the Clippers have the upper-hand on Memphis by having Chris Paul who’s been an MVP candidate throughout the season.
This Grizzlies team, coming off their best season in its franchises history, won’t be an easy out. The emergence of Mike Conley combined with the inside-out play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will be difficult to deal with, but the three-point shooting and bench play heavily favors the Clippers (bench was +70 in 4 games against the Grizzlies). This all comes down to if the Grizzlies can come up with enough offense over the stretch of four quarters to make this a competitive series and they’ve shown they can do it.
X-Factor: DeAndre Jordan
Those 24.4 minutes per game that Jordan’s played during the 2012-13 season need to increase. Sure most of it is due to Vinny Del Negro keeping Jordan off the court due to his terrible free-throw shooting, but a lot of it is foul trouble. And truth be told, if he remains on the floor he can eliminate Zach Randolph’s offense almost single-handily with his length, speed and athleticism. His scoring isn’t important, but who says he can’t go for 10 and 7 every night.
Key Matchup: Jamal Crawford vs. Jerryd Bayless
These two may never actually guard each other during the series. That’s depending on how the coaches go about their methods, but the two of them have the same job for their respective teams: providing a scoring punch off the bench. I figure whoever scores the most points between the two, their team will win the game.
Prediction: Clippers in 6