To Blake Griffin, it’s simple.
“We have to be the more aggressive team. That’s the biggest thing,” Griffin said Friday.
The Clippers will get their chance in front of a friendly crowd at Staples Center in Game 3 on Saturday. The winner will take a 2-1 lead in the opening-round series.
The Clippers haven’t played a home postseason game since 2006. The next two games will be in Los Angeles.
“Playing in front of the home crowd definitely can give you a little more confidence,” Griffin said. “You’re a little bit more relaxed. Their fans are loud and they love playing in their home arena, and you can feel that energy from their team. Taking them out of that element and also putting our guys in our home element, hopefully that gives us a little boost I guess.”
Chris Paul agrees.
“I think for us it’s all about Game 3. Game 3 puts us back in the driver’s seat,” Paul said. “But in the playoffs it’s all about controlling your home court. We went there and got one and now we’ve got to take care of our home court.”
The Clippers stunned the Grizzles in the opener by racing back from a 27-point deficit to win 99-98 Sunday night. Memphis evened the series with a 105-98 win Wednesday night.
“We’ve got to get more physical,” Paul said.”We’ve got to figure out a way to get to the free-throw line more and cut down on theirs. We came out aggressive but I don’t think we sustained it for 48 minutes. So hopefully we can do that at home.”
Memphis scored 31 points at the free-throw line in Game 2 while the Clippers scored 13. The Grizzlies shot 21 more free throws than the Clippers.
“They’re physical as it is the regular season, but they’ve stepped it up in the playoffs,” Griffin said. “Sometimes it’s tough to differentiate between that line of being extra physical and getting called for fouls. So we’ve got to find that and take it to them.
“I think it’s just about being more aggressive and taking it to them first and not have to pick that up halfway through the game. Just being the team that attacks first.”
Said Memphis center Marc Gasol: “It’s going to be a physical series. It’s the playoffs. We don’t expect anything less than that for the next game.”
Clippers fans regularly packed Staples Center this year.
That won’t matter much to the Grizzlies.
“It’s nothing like home, but it’s nice to be on the road and try to take something from the other team,” Gasol said.
“There is definitely no difference in preparation,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “I just think those guys are at home and we’re in a hotel. Their routines are normal and ours are a little bit different because we are in a hotel. As far as the preparation, the practice, the mental part of it, outside of that, it’s all the same.”
Clippers forward Caron Butler practiced Friday on a limited basis while wearing a brace on his broken left hand. Coach Vinny Del Negro said he received a good report from a hand specialist and isn’t ruling Butler out. The coach said he’ll decide Butler’s status on Saturday.
“Caron is a tough guy, he’s a battler, he wants to be out there,” Del Negro said. “But we also want to be smart about it, so I’ll evaluate it tomorrow. It was good to see him out there. I think it gives ours guys a boost because he is such a big part of our team. I give him a lot of credit for even being out there.”