Game 5: Clippers, Grizzlies Squared at 2
However, after playing like a center possessed in Games 1 & 2, DeAndre Jordan pulled the greatest disappearing act in recent memory. It is a combination of both ticky-tack foul calls that place Jordan into foul trouble as well as his coach believing he has a better shot at defending Marc Gasol with the 6'8'' Ronny Turiaf than with the outstretched arms of the 7'0'' Jordan.
If Vinny Del Negro wants to keep his job, he needs to instill a consistent trust in his $42 million center. The Clippers aren't paying Jordan to watch the postseason from his courtside seat, they are paying him to defend, rebound and block shots. Well, Vinny, he can't affect the game in a mere 17 minutes, with none of those taking place beyond the mid-point of the 3rd quarter.
Vinny had been receiving much praise from most after the first two games in Los Angeles, however, it seems as though both he and his squad were just not mentally or physically prepared for 'The Grind House' and now face a mini 3-game series beginning Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Physicality is the name of the game with the Grizzlies. The Clippers knew that. The FedEx Forum is a loud, obnoxious arena and the fans there will show no mercy in what they say to you or about you. This is how small-market basketball fans are. And the team feeds off of that. If you can't handle it, then you should never have set foot on that team flight.
If DeAndre cannot get back to the level of activity he displayed in the first two games defensively and on the boards, the Clippers will have a tough time stopping the Grizz big-man duo of Gasol and Zach Randolph. Blake Griffin and DJ have the incredibly difficult task of diluting the opposing bigs productivity while also maintaining a high level of intensity on the offensive side of the ball.
Chris Paul can't turn the ball over. Eric Bledsoe has to hit his open shots from the perimeter. Jamal Crawford can't disappear on the road after proving what a vital piece to the Clippers success puzzle he is. Lamar Odom has to be consistently ready to hit open shots and box out on the defensive glass. The Grizzlies have beat the Clippers in Memphis the same way the Clippers beat the Grizzlies in LA; on the glass.
Game Five just turned HUGE. Winner of this game will take the series and head to Oklahoma City to dethrone the Westbrook-less Thunder.