The Memphis Grizzlies will begin their postseason run at home for the first time in franchise history when they host the Los Angeles Clippers at the FedExForum in Game 1 of their first round matchup. On the final night of the season, the fourth-seeded Grizzlies defeated the Orlando Magic to earn home-court advantage in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
Los Angeles, who won the season series 2-1 and owned the tiebreaker, had multiple opportunities to clinch the fourth seed. But the fifth-seeded Clippers dropped three of their last four and finished the season one game behind the Grizzlies. Now instead of opening the playoffs within the friendly confines of the Staples Center, the Clippers have to start their postseason run in a building where they have lost four of their last five visits.
Memphis, on the other hand, heads into the playoffs winners of their final six regular-season games. A six-game winning streak coupled with home-court advantage will likely give the Grizzlies great confidence as they look to win their second playoff series in franchise history.
Memphis Grizzlies versus Los Angeles Clippers Western Conference First-Round Schedule
Game 1: Sunday, April 29, Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 2: Wednesday, May 2, Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 3: Saturday, May 5, Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Game 4: Monday, May 7, Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers, TBD
Game 5: Wednesday, May 9, Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Friday, May 11, Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Sunday, May 13, Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies, TBD (if necessary)
Steals and turnovers will be the keys to this series. Chris Paul (first), Mike Conley (second) and Tony Allen (fifth) are all among the league leaders in steals. They move their feet and use their hands to force their opponents into as many turnovers as they possibly can.
Led by the efforts of Allen and Conley, the Grizzlies employ an aggressive and intense defense designed to get into the opposition's face. By aggressively getting into their opponent's space, Memphis forces opposing teams into 17.1 turnovers per game. More than half of the miscues that the Grizzlies force are a direct result of the NBA-best 9.6 steals their defense creates each game.
In this series, the Grizzlies will be trying to steal the ball away from Chris Paul and a Clippers team that does a great job of limiting their turnovers. Los Angeles commits just 13.3 miscues per game and Paul dishes out 4.38 assists per turnover for the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA.
If Los Angeles can protect the ball and efficiently execute their pick-and-roll offense, they just might be able to steal home-court advantage from the Grizzlies. However, if Memphis forces the Clippers into a helter-skelter game of chaos, the Grizzlies will ride the energy of their home crowd and give themselves a great opportunity to win a playoff series for the second straight year.
Prediction: Grizzlies 4-2
Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings and game-by-game predictions on RandomNBAFan.com.
More on the 2012 Playoffs:
Information from NBA.com's 2012 Playoffs Schedule; ESPN.com's 2012 NBA Playoffs-First Round-Grizzlies vs. Clippers, 2011-12 Regular Season NBA Player Stats and 2011-12 Regular Season NBA Team Stats was used for this article.