Critics said the Los Angeles Clippers couldn't play their style in the playoffs. Lobs would be met by hard fouls, the pace of the postseason would take their rhythm and a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies would put all of those concerns under the microscope.
The Clippers host the Grizzlies in Game 2 on Monday night holding a 1-0 series lead after forcing Memphis to become, well, everything that Memphis is not. The slowest-paced and second-rated defensive team in the league still allowed 112 points on 55 percent shooting in Game 1, and the Grizzlies also got smacked on the boards, 47-23. Seven Clippers scored in double figures while reserve guard Jerryd Bayless led Memphis with 19.
Most disturbingly for Lionel Hollins' team, the two best players looked less than All-Stars and less than average. Zach Randolph scored 13, but he only took 10 shots and grabbed four rebounds as Blake Griffin negated his influence. Marc Gasol didn't fare any better for the Grizzlies, scoring 16 but only adding two rebounds.
Los Angeles won by grit. They executed in the halfcourt. And Paul's 23 points and seven assists -- and the ease it came by -- dictated the game as the Grizzlies lacked anyone dynamic enough to go back at the Clippers. Paul and Eric Bledsoe had their way with the Memphis guards, and Mike Conley seemingly struggled to make them work. The duo combined to go 14-for-18 from the floor and added 11 assists.
Keys to the game
Winning the fourth quarter -- For the season, the Grizzlies are the third-worst scoring team in the fourth quarter while the Clippers are in the top 10. While that is predicated upon pace, it's no secret Los Angeles tends to go on late third- and early fourth-quarter runs. They outscored Memphis, 37-22, in the period during Game 1, and Memphis must solve that issue on at least one end of the floor or the other.
Zach Randolph's involvement -- Memphis' All-Star took 10 shots in Game 1, and Griffin must continue to deny the ball. Brush screens off the ball could be used to get Griffin off his back, and switches would be even more ideal for Memphis. But even with Gasol making plays in the post, the Grizzlies offense isn't opened up if Los Angeles can continue its solid defense on Randolph.
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds: The Clippers opened as 5.5-point favorites.