Thanks to a frustratingly long gap between games, I’ve had time to come down from my Game 1 high and view Game 2 with neutrality. I have no idea what to expect tonight. Will the Clippers carry forward their momentum from Sunday, or will they rest on their laurels, content with a split in Memphis? Bigger questions face the Grizzlies: do they have the resilience to bounce back and compete tonight after a devastating loss in front of their home crowd?
Game 1 was such an anomaly for both teams that I don’t think it was instructive as to how this series will play out. The Grizzlies are a terrible three-point shooting team, as I noted in my Game 1 preview. They shot 11-16 (69%) on Sunday. Mike Conley was 5-5 from deep; he shot 37.7% on 2.6 attempts per game during the regular season. Suffice it to say, the Grizzlies are not as good as they looked while building up that 27-point lead. Nor are the Clippers as bad as they looked in the first three quarters. And of course, they probably won’t ever go on another 28-3 run. I expect both teams to revert to the mean somewhat tonight, and hopefully give us a better sense of how they match up against each other. Look for Chris Paul to be more aggressive in the early offense, and for more post-up opportunities for Blake Griffin. Expect Memphis to feed Marc Gasol in the high post, a strategy they inexplicably shied away from late in Game 1. Although the Grizzlies still terrify me, I will always pick the team with Chris Paul.
Prediction: Clippers 103, Grizzlies 97.