The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies will resume their series Saturday at Staples Center. This No 4 vs. No. 5 matchup has proven to be the most competitive first-round series in this year’s NBA playoffs.
After their Game 1 collapse, Memphis responded with a 105-98 victory, outscoring LA by 10 points in the final three periods. While the scoring output from both starting lineups has remained fairly consistent, the bench scoring in both games has proven to be the difference for both winning teams. The Clippers were +12 in bench points in Game 1 while the Grizzlies were +6 in their Game 2 win.
O.J. Mayo has been outstanding for the Grizz in both games averaging 18.5 points per game, most of his damage coming from beyond the 3-point stripe where he has drained six of his 13 attempts. Nick Young leads the Clippers tallying 30 bench points in the first two games while nailing six of seven from 3-point range.
The Clippers are 2-0 straight up and against the spread vs. Memphis this season at home, winning by an average margin of 11.5 points. Both games landed under the posted totals of 186½ and 192½. The Don Best odds screen lists the Clippers -3 for Saturday's pivotal Game 3 with 187 for the total.
After destroying Utah both games in San Antonio, the Spurs will look to continue their dominance vs. the Jazz as the series shifts to EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Game 2 was over early as San Antonio (-11) raced out to a 53-28 halftime lead. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan only played 27 minutes but amassed an amazing +35 point differential in their sparse amount of playing time.
Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin will have rethink his strategy for Game 3 and hope the home court for the Jazz can bring as much success in the playoffs as it did during the regular season. The Jazz were an impressive 25-8 straight up (20-13 ATS) at home this season.
One doesn’t need to look much further than the point guard matchup to gain some perspective on how the gritty Jazz – who played such inspired ball down the stretch just to make the playoffs – have trashed their best assets and embraced their worst traits in just two playoff games! Point guard Devin Harris has been a disaster scoring just 12 points in two games while averaging a measly 1.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds. Tony Parker, on the other hand, has dismantled what’s left of the Jazz defense while stuffing the stat sheet and leading the Spurs in scoring (23 ppg) and assists (8.5).
I’m never one to pile on but through the first two games, Gregg Popovich has reduced Corbin to a confused, desperate rotation-seeking dart thrower. Corbin’s first and biggest brain fart was moving journeyman Josh Howard into the starting lineup, a decision that not only has turned his rotation upside down, but also took shots away from one of Utah best offensive options, Gordon Hayward.
Also, has anyone seen or heard from Al Jefferson? If so, tell him his team urgently needs him to show up for Game 3.
San Antonio is 5½-point chalk for Saturday's contest, with some shops listing the Spurs -6. The total for Game 3 is 202.
Saturday's NBA slate tips with the Indiana Pacers in Orlando to take on the Magic. Indiana holds a 2-1 lead in the series and is a consensus 5-point favorite in Game 4.
The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks are in a do-or-die situation as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of that series. Oklahoma City is favored by 1½ to sweep the Mavs out of the postseason, with Saturday's total listed in the 192½-193½ range.