Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
The Memphis Grizzlies host a Los Angeles Clippers team whose bench advantage is even greater because of Rudy Gay's absence.
The past has the Memphis Grizzlies falling in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in last year's playoffs. It also includes a season-opener this year in which the Clippers defeated the Grizzlies, 101-92.
The present is Monday night at FedExForum, where Memphis will get another crack at toppling the Los Angeles team that is three games ahead in the Western Conference standings and second overall. In seeking redemption for last year's postseason series, the Grizzlies won't have leading scorer Rudy Gay, who is out Monday while attending his grandmother's funeral.
The odds may be stacked against Memphis despite playing at home, especially with Chris Paul and the Clippers coming off their own disappointing loss, a 104-101 defeat in Staples Center at the hands of a struggling Orlando Magic team. However, the Clippers won't have Paul in this game, as he's sitting out with a knee injury.
Following a 104-83 loss on Saturday to the Dallas Mavericks that snapped a four-game winning streak, one or all of the Grizzlies must replace Gay's scoring prowess, if not simply his alertness. Gay was the only starter to score in double-digits against the Mavericks, and even if he's replace across the board, his absence means the bench unit will be weakened, too.
Wing Quincy Pondexter, who would normally replace Gay in the starting lineup, is still out with a knee injury. Whether head coach Lionel Hollins starts Wayne Ellington or somebody else, the bench is shortened nonetheless, and the remaining players will compete with the best second unit in the league.
Los Angeles not only will pit Jerryd Bayless and perhaps Josh Selby against the explosive backcourt combination of Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, but the lack of depth won't help the Grizzlies starters get the same rest as Los Angeles' first unit. Lionel Hollins' team will need to play its gritty style and keep the Clippers out of transition.
Last time out
In the teams' season-opener, the Clippers won by only nine despite shooting above 50 percent and holding the Grizzlies to below 40 percent. They also won the fastbreak points 29-11 in a sloppy game with 43 combined turnovers.
How did the Grizzlies avoid a complete blowout?
The Memphis frontcourt and its brute strength won out against the athletic Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combo. In the rebounding effort, the Grizzlies grabbed 17 offensive boards to Los Angeles' eight to gain a slight edge with 15 second-chance points to 10 for the Clippers.