|L.A. Clippers||91||Pace: 83.9||108.4||50.0||27.9||8.3||22.5|
DeAndre Jordan (LAC) — 16 pts, 12 rebs
Marc Gasol (MEM) — 18 pts, 15 rebs, 7 assts
Los Angeles Clippers (53-26) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (54-25)
Consider this a dress rehearsal. In about a week, these two teams will reconvene back in Tennessee to kick off the Playoffs. These two teams should provide another exciting series as at one time or another they were both considered contenders among the West's elite.
It is kind of sad that for the second straight year, one of these two teams will have to bow out in the first round. But that is the break you get in the West.
Last year, these two teams gave us a great seven-game series that saw the Clippers go on the road and advance to the second round. This year, we are expecting much of the same as both teams have shown an ability to play some very good basketball. However, championship basketball? That seems to be a harder question to answer.
The Grizzlies have the grit that comes from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The team is built on its defense. The Clippers have a lot more flash with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin able to dazzle crowds. The games will come down to who can execute best in the half court on offense.
Do not expect either coach to reveal too much a week before the Playoffs are set to begin.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Just because the Playoffs are a week away does not mean free agency is not a focus. There are rumors beginning to circulate that Monta Ellis, who has a home outside of Memphis, would be interested in becoming a Grizzlies member. The question for Memphis is does he fit that team's identity? I don't think so. He is as inefficient as Rudy Gay and not a committed defender. Then again, he would have a strong base around him.
-The Clippers roommates at Staples Center are in full on depression mode after Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles. Bryant would not have to go far to get advice though. Chauncey Billups tore his Achilles last year and has come back this year to average 8.2 points per game in 20 appearances.
Tonight's Other Games
Mike Dunleavy (MIL) — 19 pts, 7/13 FGs
Josh McRoberts (CHA) — 18 pts, 9 rebs, 9 assts
Milwaukee Bucks (37-42) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (18-61)
The question facing Milwaukee is not whether they make the Playoffs or not. That has already been wrapped up. It is not even whether they get to the seventh seed and catch Boston. It is actually about Monta Ellis' future. Ellis can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer and all signs indicate that he will not exercise that option. However, the Bucks are on pins and needles right now as all three of their star guards can enter free agency this summer.
Courtney Lee (BOS) — 20 pts, 7/10 FGs
Tobias Harris (ORL) — 22 pts, 7/16 FGs
Boston Celtics (40-39) vs. Orlando Magic (20-59)
The Celtics made their pit stop in Miami last night and it hardly had the fireworks that it usually does. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett sat out to rest up for the Playoffs but are expected to play tonight in Orlando. The Celtics can clinch the seventh seed in the East with a win. That will mean they will not have a meeting with Miami unless the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Something that looks less and less likely now.
Markieff Morris (PHX) — 20 pts, 9 rebs
Ricky Rubio (MIN) — 24 pts, 10 assts, 5 stls
Phoenix Suns (24-55) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-50)
It is still odd to see Jermaine O'Neal trying to get up and down the floor and playing basketball. Injuries have sapped much of his athleticism and have made him a shell of a player. But he has had a good season contributing to the Suns and he is leaning toward playing another year. O'Neal is averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 18.7 minutes per game for the Suns in 55 appearances. Still productive for a player like O'Neal.