It wasn’t pretty, but the Memphis Grizzlies were able to bounce back from their heartbreaking Game 1 defeat and even up their 1st-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers before the series goes back to Los Angeles.
Chris Paul was the best player on the floor on Wednesday night, as he was able to record 29 points on 17 shots, six assists, and five steals, but his efforts were for naught against the Grizzlies, who got contributions from a huge number of players and handily won the possession battle.
During the regular season, the Clippers had the 2nd-best turnover rate in the league and 6th-best rebound rate in the league, but they lost on Wednesday night because they were unable to hold onto the ball or haul in rebounds. The Clippers allowed 23 points off turnovers on Wednesday, and only managed four offensive rebounds to Memphis’ 16. That led to Memphis getting eight more field goal attempts and 21 more free throw attempts than the Clippers, who lost despite shooting 57% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc.
Even though the Clippers managed to steal home-court advantage with an incredible comeback, they’ll be coming back to Los Angeles with a lot to worry about. The team isn’t getting balanced contributions, and would have been on the wrong end of two blowouts if the Grizzlies didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal in Game 1 or Chris Paul hadn’t been absolutely on fire in Game 2. Home-court is important, but right now the Grizzlies look bigger, deeper, tougher, and hungrier than the Clippers do, and those are things the Clippers will need to address if they want to make it out of the first round.
J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.
The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.
They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).
Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.
The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.
Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.
The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – one of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.
Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.
“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”
The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.
I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.