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NBA Betting Matchup: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers

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By: Bovada Sportsbook
Date: May 2, 2012
   
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As a general rule, the 4-seed vs. 5-seed matchups in the NBA playoffs tend to be some of the most exciting series. After an historic matchup in Game 1, it looks like the No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies and No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers series will live up to that billing.

Clippers complete a historic comeback in Game 1

In the week leading up to the NBA playoffs, it looked like the Los Angeles Clippers would earn the Western Conference’s 4-seed and have home-court advantage in the first round against Memphis. However, the Clippers lost three of their last four games in the regular season and Memphis won its final six games to jump the Clippers and take home court in the first round.

For three quarters Sunday night, home court appeared to be paying huge dividends. Memphis scored 34 points in the first quarter (a season-high) to take a 34-16 lead into the second quarter, and with 11:37 left in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies led by 24 points up 88-64.

This set the stage for the greatest fourth quarter comeback in NBA playoff history. Los Angeles went on a 28-3 run (including a 26-1 run in which Memphis didn’t have a single field goal for nearly nine minutes) to stun the Grizzlies, their fans, and the basketball world. Chris Paul had seven assists in the fourth quarter including three to Nick Young as he hit three 3-pointers in one minute to cut Memphis’s lead from 12 down to three.

After Los Angeles took the 97-96 lead with 50 seconds to go, Memphis scored its first basket since early in the quarter to take a 98-97 lead with 28 seconds to go; but Chris Paul made two free throws to take back the lead on the ensuing possession, and the Clippers’ defense held up to seal the remarkable comeback.

Both teams came into the playoffs hot

While the Clippers did lose three of their last four games, that mini-slump didn’t offset a month of strong play leading up to it. Los Angeles was 13-2 in the 15 games leading up to the last four games of the season, finishing up with a 14-5 record over their final 19 games. They finished the regular season with a 40-26 record straight up and a 33-32-1 record against the NBA basketball odds.

Memphis’ regular season took a very similar arc to Los Angeles. After going 25-21 straight up through their first 46 games, Memphis finished up the regular season with a 16-5 mark over their last 19 games including an 11-2 run and six straight wins to end on a high note. The Grizzlies finished the regular season with a straight up record of 41-25 but struggled against the spread with an ATS record of 29-37.

Perhaps the momentum of Memphis’ six straight wins to close out the regular season helped the Grizzlies jump out to that early lead in Game 1, but after the wild ride in Sunday’s fourth quarter, the regular season is officially in the past.

Explosive offense versus shutdown defense

Blake Griffin (20.7 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game) and Chris Paul (19.8 PPG, 9.1 assists per game) lead Los Angeles’ high-powered offense, which averaged 97.5 points per game in the regular season and showed what it could do when clicking Sunday in the fourth quarter.

Memphis has offensive talent as well in Rudy Gay (19 points per game), Mike Conley (17 PPG), and O.J. Mayo (17 PPG), but the Grizzlies’ bread and butter this season was their defense, which finished fifth in the NBA allowing just 93.0 points per game.

These are two great and fairly evenly matched teams; the series will likely come down to which team can control the tempo. An offensive series would likely favor Los Angeles while a defensive series would likely favor Memphis. If Game 1 is any indication, this should be a thrilling series throughout. Game 2 gets underway in Memphis on Wednesday night.

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