The Los Angeles Clippers won the first game of their series against the Memphis Grizzlies by 21 points. They squeaked out a Game Two win on a buzzer-beating shot by Chris Paul to take a solid 2-0 lead before heading on the road. They lost Games Three and Four in Memphis by 12 and 21 points respectively. Then they lost Game Five at home by 10.
It’s safe to say the Clippers are getting worse throughout this series.
The Grizzlies seem to have things figured out. After allowing L.A. to put up 112 points in the first game, the Clips have not reached 94 points since. The team known for their high-flying air attack has been grounded. “Lob City” has quickly turned into “Let’s hope Chris Paul can carry us… City.”
Blake Griffin only played 20 minutes in Game Five because of a high ankle sprain and that is honestly 20 more minutes than he probably should have played. His status for the rest of the series is up in the air.
You can chalk up the big swing in the series to adjustments.
I know everyone is always quick to blame Vinny Del Negro for the Clippers’ shortcomings, but there is a reason for that. He is not a very good coach.
In Game One, there were over 200 points scored by both teams combined and that has not happened since. That is because Memphis knows they cannot outscore the Clippers in a run-and-gun type matchup. So they slow things down, play more methodically, run a lot through the post where they have an advantage and the game flow skews in their direction.
Rather than throw a different look out there, like a smaller lineup that forces the Grizzlies to spread the floor, Del Negro tries to match size with Memphis. He throws out a hobbled Griffin, an immature DeAndre Jordan and a cast of role-playing big men that do not belong banging down low with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
I honestly could not tell you how good of a coach Lionel Hollins is, but in this series, Del Negro is making him look like Phil Jackson. The Grizzlies totally changed the tide sometime during Game Two and now they are one win away from advancing to the second round.
Once Russell Westbrook got injured, winning this series became a whole lot more important. The Grizzlies have stepped up to the task and it looks like the Clippers are going to come up short again.