The Memphis Grizzlies face elimination Friday (ESPN, 9 ET) in Game 6 of their NBA playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Grizzlies might be convinced that they’re the better team and should force this series back to Memphis for a Game 7.
The Grizzlies have outscored L.A. 478-465, and the Clippers have been in the lead only 82 of the 254 total minutes in this series.
Even if they play, Griffin’s sprained left knee and Paul’s right hip flexor could limit their minutes and impact, and the Clippers don’t fare well without them. The Clippers’ points per 100 possessions this season, playoffs included, show a stark difference in performance (see chart) when these two aren’t on the floor for Los Angeles.
L.A. Clippers' Points Per 100 Possessions
With and Without Paul, Griffin
The Grizzlies’ problems in this series were evident on the scoreboard -- they were winning the first three quarters by a 74.4-66.2 average margin, but they couldn’t close out those games and found themselves in a 3-1 hole.
The Grizzlies found their solution in Game 5 and when big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol came alive. After averaging a combined 23 points in the first four games, Randolph and Gasol combined for 42 on Wednesday.
But above all else, whether Los Angeles can extend their home postseason win streak to five and advance to the next round probably comes down to how much Griffin and Paul can contribute.
When they’re both on the court, the Clippers dominate to the tune of a plus-303 point differential. With only one of their two stars playing, they were 29 points better than their opponents. And when neither was on the court, they were 149 points short of their opponents.