Grizzlies-Clippers Game 3 Preview: Win at the Grind House

Have to snatch the victory from LA. (USATSI)
Have to snatch the victory from LA. (USATSI)

Previewing Game 3 of the Clippers-Grizzlies first round series.

1. Where We're At: The Clippers are up 2-0 and have defended home court after Chris Paul hit a game-winner over Tony Allen and Darrell Arthur. The Clippers were able to break away from the Grizzlies in Game 1 during the final 10 minutes of the game, but they didn’t get that luxury of execution in Game 2. The Grizzlies kept fighting back, executed extremely well in the half court, and ran a beautiful play to tie the game with about 13 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for Memphis, Chris Paul had the ball on the final possession and ended the Grizzlies’ chances at victory.

2. The Big Number: 59. The Memphis Grizzlies have gotten to the free throw line 59 times in the first two games, but have failed to take advantage of their propensity for getting to the charity stripe. They’re shooting just 72.9 percent from there and have to find a way to get back to the 77.3 percent they shot during the regular season (10th in the NBA). It doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but Game 2 destroyed their percentage. They missed 11 of their 34 attempts in a game they lost by two points. If they can get back to making their freebies while getting to the line at this rate, they can take Game 3 and even the series.

3. Key Adjustment: The hesitation by Mike Conley. Conley was a big difference from Game 1 to Game 2 for Memphis and a big reason for that was his hesitation dribble against the Clippers’ big men. In Game 1, Conley couldn’t make jumpers and he had a problem getting into the lane against LA’s defense. Their bigs were hedging the pick-and-roll well and he didn’t have a direct line. Conley stayed patient with the Grizzlies’ sets in Game 2 and would pause before he attacked the interior. It wasn’t a huge adjustment, but it was enough to throw the defense off-balance. Conley got into the lane for 11 attempts and it helped open up his jumper a bit. His hesitation also allowed more spacing for the roll man after setting the screen.

4. The Big Story: Can the Memphis Grizzlies exorcise the demons against the Clippers? The Grizzlies have had some really bad breaks against the Clippers in the nine playoff games they’ve faced each other. Over the last two playoffs, four of the six losses have been by four points or less. One of those losses was a blown 27-point lead. Memphis has to figure out how to execute on both ends at the end of games. Perhaps the home crowd can psych out the Clippers a bit and pump up the effort of Memphis. But something has to change to get them on the right side of these close games. Otherwise, this is going to be a tough mental block to get past in the future.

5. The Facts: 9:30 p.m. ET start time. Both teams should be at full strength.

CBS Sports Writer

Zach Harper likes basketball. Some would even say he loves it. He's also an enthusiast for everything Ricky Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nic Cage, and has seen the movie Gigli almost three times. He's been... Full Bio

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