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Monday, May 14th, 2012 at 9:30 am  |  57 responses

Post Up: Grizzlies Going Home

The Clippers take Game 7 in Memphis and Miami wins its opener against Indiana.

Clippers 82, Grizzlies 72 (LAC wins 4-3)

OK. This team has guts.

The Clippers dug themselves a hole the size of a damn space ship (that’s ten Hamed Haddadis) twice this series. They scrambled out of them both times with tools nobody knew they had down there. And by down there, I basically mean balls.

The Clippers suffocated the Grizzlies last night when they needed to. LA gave up four points in the last three minutes in a close Game 7. None of them came on field goals. Los Angeles beat Memphis, 82-72. They put a lesser horse out to pasture like grown-ass men, then they smoked a cigarette, stole the Grizzlies’ wives and drove to Texas in a truck with a nickname. They won the series 4-3 and they’re advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Turns out they needed that 26-point comeback in Game 1 to advance. It gave them character. I’m not sure they needed to lose two elimination games, up 3-1 and heading home, but you can chalk that up to the “character” thing, too, if it helps you sleep better at night.

It looked shaky there for a minute. The first quarter felt like a series of loose balls and confused shots late in the shot clock. Memphis scored two points in a five-minute stretch in the middle of the first quarter, but L.A. couldn’t really capitalize. There was no pace, no rhythm, and the Clippers are a rhythm team.

Or that’s what we thought.

This Clippers supporting cast? They just adapted. All of those stray guards that L.A.’s been hoarding all season filled in points when they were hard to come by. Mo Williams was probably the best at it. He was hitting jumpers, yep, but he was tossing in teardrops he hasn’t hit since he was sad in Milwaukee. Then a Foye jumper and a Young jumper and a Bledsoe jumper.

Chris Paul found them all, then he took over when it was falling back into Memphis’ game in the middle of the third. A Rudy Gay jumper over a smaller defender for the lead? Fine, Paul will invent some free throws for himself. Did Marc Gasol get an eternity to take a set shot because of a missed assignment? CP will create two more 15-footers to make up for it.

This guy knows so much about basketball it’s making Nick Young look like a biochemist by association.

And now it looks like this team has an identity.

Young is going to get off the bench, shoot four shots, shoot four more if the first four looked good, and then he’s going to show up to the press conference room looking like he’s in the movie “Heat.” Kenyon Martin is the wizened veteran who was on the last Great Lob Hope that didn’t win a championship, and now he’s content beating the hell out of people for rebounds to see if that will work any better than the first time. Eric Bledsoe is the first guard off the bench on a top-4 team in the West all of a sudden. Reggie Evans is a revelation, a crunchtime player, and he’s about to be bathing in money. Blake’s going to score 40 in one of these games once he gets it clicking.

Then there’s Paul at the middle of it doing magic, directing traffic by breathing fire.

These aren’t the fun-as-hell Lob City Clippers that you showed your girlfriend three months ago.

They’re a lot better than that. They’re not as fun, but they’re a lot better than that.

They’ll try to go outrun the Spurs now. Or outhustle or outfight them. Any of those can work. They’re not going to be favored, and maybe they shouldn’t be, but who the hell would want to bet against a team that just figured out how good they are? —Ben Collins

Heat 95, Pacers 86 (MIA leads 1-0)

Erik Spoestra found himself in a situation that very few coaches covet. Down six at half with your All-Star power forward leaving the game due to an injury, he knew the only chance the Heat had at winning the game would come from the League’s MVP. Spoestra directed a few clear words to his newly-touted MVP winner that set the tone for the rest of the game. “I just looked at him straight in the eyes and said, ‘You can flat-out not get tired, period.’”

If LeBron James felt tired at any point in the second half, he fooled the crowd with his look. 32 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists later, LeBron fueled a short-handed Heat win to set the tone for the series. Losing Game 1 at home to an inferior opponent would only re-open the skeletons in the closet for LeBron about him not being able to close out a game or win when it matters most. This time, however, the Heat made the necessary adjustments to take control of the series.

The “necessary adjustments” essentially became give the ball to Lebron and Wade and get out of the way. LeBron poured in 16 fourth-quarter points, knocking down jumpers at every crucial point in the last few minutes. Wade finished the game with 29 points and physically outmuscled his way to the hoop all night long, especially when a smaller guard like Darren Collison or George Hill ended up switching onto him. LeBron and Wade essentially imposed their will on the Pacers and outscored the entire Pacer team in the second half by themselves, 42-38. What’s even crazier is the fact that the Heat did not make a single three-pointer all game. They scored 95 points off two-point field goals and free throws.

The Pacers got a disappointing outing from leading scorer Danny Granger, on both ends of the floor. His 1-10 shooting performance simply will not be enough to beat what most people consider to be the League’s premier team right now. As expected, however, the Pacers front line came up big throughout the night. David West and Roy Hibbert both went 6-12 from the field, both went 5-6 from the charity stripe, and finished with 17 each. West grabbed 12 boards while Hibbert brought 11 down.

A positive for the Pacers will be the fact that Paul George and Granger combined for just 13 points and still Indiana only lost by 8. Their lack of offensive production will almost certainly not happen to that extreme again. However, this series may not make it back to Miami after next weekend if the Pacers don’t find a way to at least slow down the “Big Two.” Completely shutting down both Wade and LeBron seems impossible at this point, but not allowing them to singlehandedly score more than an entire team may be a starting point for Game 2. —Dave Spahn (@DaveSpahn)

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  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Lebron and Wade took over in the 4th, but I see Indy taking a game or 2 in this series. Have there been any updates regarding the severity of Bosh’s injury?

  • RIGGS

    The pacers are gonna be a problem. two scorers having an off day, referee preferential treatment (it would be called homecooking if it only happened at home) and they lose by 8. This team isnt a pushover.

  • eyal

    so sad for the grizzlies. Anyone think the team was better last year playing inside-out with Gay in a sling?

  • everything

    will OKC win the series over the Lakers?
    Can the Clippers pull an an upset?

    I need your advice guys

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    Chris Paul is building a legacy as one of the best point guards in NBA History.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    “This guy knows so much about basketball it’s making Nick Young look like a biochemist by association.” … That might be the greatest sentence I’ve read this entire season. *dying*

  • Brahsef

    There’s gonna be a foul call discrepency when one team drives ruthlessly to the hoop and the other is a jump shooting team. Granger and Paul George are gonna have a tough series with LeBron and Wade on the wing. I just don’t see how people think the Pacers match up well with the Heat at all. Heat still in 5.

  • T-Money

    just out of curiosity, will we get anyone in the media saying that this is an asterisk championship if bosh doesn’t come back and miami gets eliminated at some point? of course not lol.

  • JoeMaMa

    Bad coaches don’t win playoff series. Good ones do.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    ^^

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    *for T-Money*

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Is bosh the best player on his team? Is he even the second best player on his team?

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Last time I pick a team who’s closer is Rudy Gay.

  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=hail+scalabrine&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=763&tbm=isch&tbnid=NwJ-Val5sz1SEM:&imgrefurl=http://thecorner33. Max

    eyal, the difference was a healthy ZBo and the fourth quarter collapse in game 1..

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    IF Paul Pierce and Rudy Gay were to swap teams, the Hawks and Grizzlies are in the 2nd round.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Lionel Hollins made some horrible coaching decisions last night. Horrible horrible horrible. Why was Gilbert Arenas playing the most important minutes of the season? Why was Zach Randolph sitting for soo long? And VDn gets praised for making similarly weird decisions because luckily his bench guys are better than Memphis’. The Clippers are going to get crushed by San Antonio.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Spo’s adjustment to Bosh’s injury was to tell LeBron “not to get tired”, really? His 3rd best player and only servicable big goes down and his answer was to ride Wade/LeBron like seabiscuit. How long do you expect LeBron/Wade to hold up carrying this team without Bosh? Not long, he has to get more out of the other 6-7 rotation guys because he can not expect Wade and LeBron to play every minute of every 2nd half.

  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=hail+scalabrine&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=763&tbm=isch&tbnid=NwJ-Val5sz1SEM:&imgrefurl=http://thecorner33. Max

    Why did Haddadi play 6 minutes?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    ^^ A line from Jadakiss “WHY”?

  • Ill Smith

    Pat Riley. Chuck Daly. Phil Jackson. Rudy T. Coach Pop. Larry Brown. Doc. Carlisle. The only coaches to win it all the last 25 years. Knowing this is it safe to count out the Lakers, Clippers & Heat?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    When did SBrooks become a good coach? Might as well throw OKC in that group.

  • Ill Smith

    Scotty Brooks ain’t had his chance to really prove he’s a bad coach yet. Now VDN, Brown & Spoelstra on the other hand……

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Brooks has already proven he’s not that good of a coach. Him, Spoelstra, and Brown are all pretty porous. But in their defense, it doesn’t seem like many young coaches really are very well rounded.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    So, what do most folks think the Heat will do if Bosh is done for the playoffs, or seriously limited?
    Can they beat the Celtics without him, and can they beat the West champion?

  • el_larsen

    lol @iamorange4ever!! and thats the truth!
    pistons long gone ,so go C’s(one final run !!) and clips(the playoff beards will be funny if they made it to the finals!)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    All bets are pretty much off at this point. I don’t know how they would be able to beat Oklahoma City, or San Antonio, but I also wouldn’t bet against them.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    The Heat may have enough to survive against the Sixers without Bosh or with a hampered Bosh. However, against the Celtics, they will struggle mightily guarding KG and Bass. Unless a certain defender who supposedly guards all 5 spots guards KG for long stretches. Something about the Sixers, disabling other team’s stars.

  • Ill Smith

    @nbk Brooks is a young coach with an even younger team that’s made improvements year after year not sure what he’s doing wrong exactly. Anything short of a Finals berth this year then let the Brooks slander commence.
    @Allen They weren’t getting past Boston with Bosh. Miami ain’t mentally tough & wouldna got us last year had DWade chump ass not broke Rondo arm. C’s at full strength, on the cusp of the Finals vs the Heat of all ppl? We got this here *KRIT voice*

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    i hate to break it too you, but how far you get with a team that talented doesn’t really say much about his abilities as a coach. It’s the offense (or lack there of) that he employs. It’s the sets his teams use out of time-outs. It’s the end of game offense (which is just Westbrook & Durant taking turns in isolation, or a high pick and roll for Harden) that tell everyone he’s not that good of a coach. Almost all of the regulars that frequent Slam will tell you of his issues as a coach. We have been discussing them for 2 years now. And he hasn’t shown a lick of improvement, just a coach in a fortunate position to have players as young and talented as the Thunder who will improve every year no matter who is calling the plays. I honestly believe any coach in the NBA could win 50+ games with the Thunder and have them in the exact same position. Sh*t, i feel there are commenters on this website who could get that team comfortably into the playoffs.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    W/o bosh they can still beat philly and the pacers.. however they will lose to the celtics. I don’t think Bosh will be out for the 3 rounds tho. Hopefully he sits out a couple games this round then comes back and helps the heat eat the pacers alive.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    It’s not a coincidence that OKC’s rise coincided with KD/Russ/Ibaka/Harden having career years. SBrooks has nothing to do with that or OKC’s becoming a great team.

  • Ill Smith

    I can’t argue that he’s not the main reason for their success hell they could go coachless & still pull off 55 wins. I just haven’t seen Brooks hinder his team in any way like say DAntoni not playing to his stars’ strengths, Spoelstra’s stagnant late game offense/awful rotations or VDN’s all-around elementary style. Brooks isn’t a great coach not at all, but he hasn’t been outcoached in a playoff series yet so I’m not sure what more you can ask for out the man. Nobody expected em to beat the Lakers in 2010 or the Mavs last season (the last 2 champs btw) so he gets the benefit of the doubt in my eyes unless they fall anything short of a Finals appearance.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Scott Brooks runs the most stagnant late game offense in the NBA. And the most elementary overall offense as well. His defensive system is solid, he’s good with how he manages minutes. But offensively he’s a dope. Again, he’s just fortunate to have the talent he has. Specifically, the offensive talent.

  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=hail+scalabrine&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=763&tbm=isch&tbnid=NwJ-Val5sz1SEM:&imgrefurl=http://thecorner33. Max

    Brooks has to go if OKC wants a title.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    people DEFINITELY expected OKC to beat the mavs last year lmao…. nobody thought the mavs would go as far as they did.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I can’t see the Heat winning a ring without Chris Bosh doing Chris Bosh things. Not unless LeBron finds a gear we did not know he had.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    I got Lakers winning in 7.. probably in the minority with that prediction. But still, epic series ahead..

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Now that the second round is set, and their hasn’t been anything un-excepted yet. I’ll put my second round predictions.
    -
    .SAS over LAC in 4
    .OKC over LAL in 6
    .MIA over IND in 5
    .BOS over PHI in 6

  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=hail+scalabrine&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=763&tbm=isch&tbnid=NwJ-Val5sz1SEM:&imgrefurl=http://thecorner33. Max

    ^
    SAS over LAC in 5 (CP3 is too good to get swept imo)
    OKC over LAL in 7
    MIA over IND in 6
    BOS over PHI in 6

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Nbk, I hate you, mostly cause those would be my exact predictions.

  • Ill Smith

    SAS in 6.
    OKC in 7.
    BOS in 5.
    MIA in 6.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    I have the Clippers vs San An going 6 games. I’m not sold on the Spurs like everyone else is. Just like I wasn’t sold on the Grizzlies.
    Lakers vs OKC is going to be redonkulous. I think it will be a 6 game series with the Lakers winning. Or a 7 game series with OKC taking it.
    MIA is going to beat the Pacers in 5.
    Boston will have Philly gasping for air by game 5.
    I just want to brag about how awesome Gasol was in game 7 for the Lakers. He was freaking awesome. I wanted to kiss the TV but he is just so ugly :(

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    lol sorry Caboose.
    .
    Max, CP3 has a hurt groin. Which does not bode well for playing against Tony Parker. Only reason I think it’ll be a sweep.
    .
    I don’t think Indiana, or Philadelphia have even a shot against Boston or Miami.
    .
    The Lakers are too reliant on inconsistent players (Gasol & Bynum) for me to be on them beating OKC. And MWP is not the defender he was the last time these two teams matched up. And Durant is also not the same player on the opposite end of the curve.
    .
    But Kobe Bryant is still playing, so, uh…i wouldn’t actually put any money on it. — Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers do exactly what they did last year.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    I agree that they are inconsistent(obviously), but they only need to be consistent for 4 out of 7 games.
    I understand both sides of the OKC vs Lakers series. Thunder are the young team with the better record and the Lakers are the veteran team that is thought to be too old, but still has the punchers chance because of their talent and size and champion pedigree.
    Like I said. Lakers in 6 or Okc in 7.
    I actually think Artest is the exact same defender he was when they played OKC in 2010. He has shown me that he has the same skills, strength, and speed he had a couple years back today. He really is on top his game. Where I do agree is that Durant is not the same player. He is so much better now than he was then.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    What has MWP shown you that makes you think he moves Laterally like he used to?
    .
    And how in the world are the Lakers going to guard the perimeter against OKC…? That’s what I don’t get, Westbrook, Harden, Durant is torture. Kobe is not going to have those long stretches where he doesn’t have to do anything defensively. Ramon Sessions is going to be put to the ultimate test as an individual defender. And MWP, who (according to my eyes, bruce bowen’s eyes, and a few other people whose opinion’s i respect) has legitimately lost a step defensively is in for a dog fight every minute he’s on the court.
    .
    I was torn between OKC in 6 and OKC in 5 to be honest.

  • T-Money

    i think miami can still win it all with bosh out, only because that should force lebron to be agressive in making plays everytime down the court. it will basically be the lebron/d-wade show from here on out. now can lebron hold up physically and mentally for, say, 18 games at 45 mins a night? time will tell.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    That is a helluva a mental and physical commitment. Just watching dude the other it’s crazy how much energy he expends. And Spoelstra has to do better about getting scoring on the floor to complement his stars. He can’t just trot out these lineups where scoring is so hard to find and they aren’t really stopping anyone on defense. Honestly, the Pacers missed a lot of makeable shots. Counting on that to happen every game is a sucker’s bet.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    I watch him play.. and he showed me that he moves laterally better than anyone was probably expecting.
    He is no where near DPoTY Ronnie, but he has been a beast over the last month of this season, just like he was when he first came to the Lakers . He showed glimpses before he was in shape, but after he got in shape (About 2 months ago) he has been a great defender and solid offensive player on a nightly basis. He is legitimately as good as anyone in the L today to guard Durant. Durant is just so much better now that he might make Ron look like a scrub defender from play to play, but he will lock him up from possession to possession also. Have you watched Ron much over the last part of the year? He started this streak of awesome offense coupled with awesome defense a couple games before Kobe went out with shin injury and pretty much brought it every game. I could/should look up his stats over the last 10 or 15 games he’s played. Something around 15PPG,5RB,3AST, with stellar D. He’s looking good these days(Minus MMA bows to deadly areas around the head and stuff like that…)
    I definitely don’t fault anyone on taking OKC in this series. They are very good. I think the Lakes are underdogs, but I like their chances.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Metta was solid for the last month. But he didn’t play Kevin Durant every game for the last month. I never said he wasn’t an elite defender still. Or not as good as almost anyone in the league to put on him (but not as good as everyone, Tony-Allen/LeBron/Iguodala/Mba-Moute would all be better covers). To me he has clearly lost a step in terms of sliding on defense, he’s not going to be able to deal with Durant being so shifty and long, he can’t recover like he used too even 2 years ago. I think he may spend a big chunk of the 5 or 6 game series in foul trouble.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    I only see him in foul trouble in max 3 games. He wants to be on the floor as much as anyone. He is not “foul-prone” per say. He fouls allot, but when he gets caught he usually lays off the gambling. I agree with you on those defenders. They would also do as good a job. Allen I feel is to small to be ultra effective. Bron would do great. Mba-Moute would be able to guard him effectively, but he would be a big hindrance on offense. Bron, Iggy, and Ron are the three players I personally think are the best at guarding Durantula while still being able to do other things on the floor.
    I am definitely more concerned about Russ just destroying Sessions and Blake… Yikes…

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Allen gave Durant fits earlier this year. Cuz he is strong enough to play right up against him without just being over-matched by Durant’s strength. Almost like how Stephen Jackson was the best defender to put on Dirk back in the day. — The thing is, Metta is SOO strong, if Durant gets a step on him it will look like a foul every time MWP tries to recover. Instead of cutting him off he will use his arm and it will look like he’s manhandling Durant. If Durant didn’t weigh 2 ounces more than a feather i honestly think MWP would fair better. As backwards as that sounds.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    (over-matched by Durant’s) *Length* – my bad

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    LeBron is probably the most physically fit and conditioned athlete in the playoffs but asking him to do what he did in Game 1 for the next 14-16 games is too much to ask from anyone. Guys like Miller, Battier, Haslem and Chalmers have step up and start hitting those open shots with consistency because if they don’t, IND could stretch this thing out to 7games and that will affect them going into the Bos/Phi series.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    LOL, good stuff nbk.
    I haven’t seen Allen guard Durant enough. I figured that even with TA’s strength that Durant would have no issues just shooting over him all night. I mean that’s a bigger miss-match than Dirk/Jackson even in my mind. Jackson was a legit 6’7″ guy on Dirk, a 7 footer. Durant may be 7 foot(6’11″) and Allen is only 6’4″ tops. But TA is so good defensively that i’m not surprised he gives him fits.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    See what i think you aren’t factoring into that is where each guy releases the ball from. Durant and Dirk are both 7 footers. But Durant’s jumper starts below his chin and his release isn’t much higher then the top of his head. While Dirk’s release is about as extended as possible, and he starts his release almost behind his eye rather than infront of his face. It really seems to be harder for Durant to shoot over guys that are right up against him then it ever really was for Dirk. But those guard skills and quickness he has are what usually provides him with those valuable inches to get his shot off.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    Durant for the record doesn’t seem like he’s gotten better with the whole, “easily pushed off his spot thing”. He shot a terrible percentage with marion on him, and Tony Allen gave him fits… also lebron will literally kill himself doing all that. Chris Bosh HAS to come back soon.

  • http://www.google.com/imgres?q=brian+scalabrine&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=712&bih=572&tbm=isch&tbnid=paNXJ6FIB-hVJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.2ksports.ca/2012/04/30/brian-scalabr LakeShow

    True that.
    One thing we can all agree on. Helluva series ahead of us.

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