Grizzlies vs. Clippers adjustments: Less focus on Mike Conley, better rebounding

Andy Lyons

The Clippers were unable to win either game in Memphis, losing their 2-0 series lead. But if they stop defending Mike Conley as if he's Chris Paul and get back to rebounding, they should be able to take Game 5 in Los Angeles.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers are tied at two wins each in their first round series. After starting the series with two straight victories, the Clippers have now lost two in a row and will try to recover back home in L.A. What adjustments must the Clippers make?

First and foremost, they need to stop converging on Mike Conley. All the attention paid to him has opened the floor for Memphis from beyond the arc and in the mid-range. Conley, a 44 percent shooter from the field through the season, is shooting only 39 percent in the series. Nevertheless, L.A. is leaving shooters open to trap him, and Conley has taken advantage by finding other people. He is averaging 9.3 assists through four games in the playoffs.

Play No. 1

Blake Griffin has stepped far out on Conley here, even though he's shooting only 20 percent from beyond the arc through the series. Caron Butler is going to shift over towards Conley to assist in cutting off dribble penetration.

P1_1_medium

Conley drives past Griffin and gets into the lane. The Clippers successfully trap him there, but Tayshaun Prince is open on the perimeter.

P1_2_medium

Conley passes to Prince who hits the jumper.

P1_3_medium

The Clippers cannot commit three defensive players to any ball-handler, much less Conley, on a pick and roll.

Play No. 2

Ronny Turiaf is the help defender on this screen and is not in position to make a play on Conley.

P2_1_medium

Both Clippers' defenders are now shifting in the same direction and are behind the play. Lamar Odom is under the rim to help.

P2_2_medium

The Clippers are using three defenders to defend the pick and roll again, this time losing Marc Gasol while chasing Conley.

P2_3_medium

Turiaf tries to challenge the shot, but it's too late.

P2_4_medium

Instead of trying to help on a play where he's out of position, Turiaf needed to rotate back onto Gasol.

P2_5_medium

Play No.3

The Clippers are too willing to collapse into the paint when Conley gets any dribble penetration.

P3_1_medium

DeAndre Jordan makes the same mistake as Turiaf by trying to help on a play where he's out of position. Eric Bledsoe rotates into the paint to help, but Griffin is already directly in front of Conley. The Clippers are making multiple mistakes in their pick and roll coverage. The mistake from play No. 1 (collapsing from the opposite side) and play No. 2 (trying to recover on a play while out of position) combine for a defensive disaster.

P3_2_medium

The poor decision-making from the Clippers leaves Jerryd Bayless open in the corner and Gasol all alone near the top of the arc.

P3_3_medium

Play No. 4

The Grizzlies are running high screens against the Clippers often because it has yielded results. They do it again on this play.

P4_1_medium

Jordan shifts his feet to get in front of Conley. Paul chases the play, which is a costly mistake.

P4_2_medium

Even when the Clippers need only two defenders to stop the play, they still allow an open jumper. Jordan had done a good job of picking up Conley, so Paul needed to switch onto Gasol once Jordan had stopped the dribble penetration.

P4_3_medium

Bottom line: the Clippers are putting too high of an importance on a player who isn't great from the field, has struggled through the series and has this shot chart:

Conlolool_medium

That same player is also prone to missing wide open layups, like this:

Conleyugh_medium

That has to change in Game 5.

***

It isn't just the Clippers defensive scheme on Conley that is hurting them. In Game 1, L.A. outrebounded Memphis, 47-23. In Game 2 they topped the Grizzlies again, 40-38. In the two games since the series shifted to Memphis, the Grizzlies have dominated the boards by a 90-61 combined margin. In each of the four games, the team that has more rebounds has won.

Looking closer at Game 3 and Game 4, the Grizzlies had 30 offensive rebounds, which turned into 38 second-chance points. The Clippers lost both games by a combined 33 points.

Play No. 1

Oreb1_medium

Randolph outworks two Clippers for the rebound and putback on this play. Griffin in particular has to body up with the Grizzlies' bigs and box out.

Play No. 2

Three Clippers are in position to get the rebound or at least box out Randolph. Instead, they stand and watch as Randolph grabs the rebound.

Oreb1_medium

Play No. 3

Gasol is surrounded by four Clippers and still gets the offensive rebound.

Oreb2_medium

The lack of effort on the boards is concerning for the Clippers. They must do a better job of denying second-chance points to a Grizzlies team that lacks offensive options. Limiting extra field goal attempts is key for Game 5 and the remainder of the series.

***

If the Clippers can win Game 5 in Los Angeles, they get Game 7 on their home court in a worst-case scenario. Should they lose to Memphis, the Grizzlies will have an opportunity to close out the series at FedEx Forum in Game 6. Game 5 is therefore pivotal in the series.

But if the Clippers adjust their defense and do a better job of limiting second chance points, their offense should be able to give them the series lead.

More from SB Nation:

The meaning of Jason Collins' coming out

The best GIFs from Monday's playoff action

Steph Curry can thank Denver's defense

Supercut: Kobe Bryant is very, very sad

Sacramento's successful blueprint to keeping Kings

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.