Although the NBA season is still fairly young, with teams playing an average of 12 games thus far, the Clippers’ schedule this week has big-time implications towards both post-season confidence and playoff seeding. Before going on the road for a back-to-back against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers get to host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. After losing to the Toronto Raptors at home by 16 points last week, the Grizzlies seem to have finally found their stride with two road victories against the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. The Clippers and Grizzlies have faced each other 20 times in the past 22 months – expect a competitive game filled with plenty of emotions.
AccuScore simulations have the Clippers as solid 85.8 percent favorites in Monday night’s matchup with the Grizzlies. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 107-95, with the Clippers covering the -8.5 spread in nearly 63 percent of the simulated games. While the money line and spread probability heavily favor the Clippers, picking either side of the over/under is much more difficult for this game. The simulations give a 55 percent chance that the score goes over 198. The Clippers are averaging 110 points per game and giving up nearly 106 per game. If this game were being played in Memphis, it’d be much safer to take the under on the total as the Grizzlies are known for their slower, grind-it-out type of play. The Clippers are at home and given the history these two teams have, it’s fair to assume the Clippers will take this game very seriously. The team is 5-0 thus far at home and should reach 6-0 on Monday night.
Mike Conley: 14 points, 7 assists, 1 steal
Zach Randolph: 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Marc Gasol: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
Chris Paul: 22 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
Blake Griffin: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
DeAndre Jordan: 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
What to Watch for
The Grizzlies are 5-1 this season when forward Zach Randolph scores 15 points or more. He’s projected to score 14 points tonight. Keep an eye on the Randolph-Griffin matchup – there’s little doubt that Griffin scores 20+, but if Randolph is somehow able to match him bucket for bucket, it’ll be a long night for the Clippers.
The next two games for the Clippers are brutal, a road back-to-back against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder. Including the game on Monday, that’s three games against potential playoff opponents. The team knows a big win on Monday gives them the needed momentum to take on Minnesota and OKC. I expect a Clippers victory, but would take Memphis and the points if I were to bet. Clippers by 7.
Photo Credit: USATSI