by Gabrielle E. Utsey
“There’s NBA players on every team.” Charles Barkley
It’s the playoffs, so we all know that it’s win or go home and that every team is going to have to dig deep if they want to be crowned the champions. As a fan, your mind is already set on the perfect scenario that’s going to get your team to the big dance. But there is one rule we all must remember, expect the unexpected when it comes to the 2012 NBA playoffs. To be honest, I was expecting the L.A. Clippers to put an end to their series with Memphis sooner rather than later. I was not expecting the Grizzlies to force this series to seven games.
I didn’t follow the Grizzlies through the regular season I merely listened to the grumbles I heard about them being a team to watch. The joke is on me for not taking the Grizzlies as seriously as I should have. Fearless, aggressive and all about the hustle, the Grizzlies actually blew me away by their play. These boys were hungry. Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Mike Conely, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo and playmaker Rudy Gay were key components in keeping them in this series against the Clippers. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Randolph or Gay for fear I would miss something. Randolph is the epitome of aggressive and he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time on offensive rebounds, getting Grizzlies those garbage points. When it comes to Gay, he’s just an all around solid player that you can depend on night after night to be the backbone for the Griz and when he’s hot, he’s on fire. When he gets into a rhythm he will shoot your eyes out. You want the ball in his hands to close it out in those final seconds. I received a rude awakening from the Grizzlies. Those boys can ball and next season I will be paying a lot more attention to them.
For the most part, the Clippers had a good season. I was impressed that with the late addition of Chris Paul during the regular season they were able to pull it together and look like a serious contender. However, it was apparent during the regular season that the Clippers needed a boost, which still seems to be the case going into the playoffs. Yes, CP3 is an amazing asset for the Clippers and he has brought “Lob City” and some to Los Angeles, but what the Clippers are missing at this crucial point in the season is leadership, not to mention experience. You’re missing about a 15 point average per game, around 4 assists and 14 years in this league with Chauncey Billups out with an Achilles injury. So, where do you turn? Clippers had to rely on their bench. Stepping up were Mo Williams, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe and Randy Foye. They all came up huge for the Clippers during the series, filling in some of those gaps Billups left. With all that said, they have played solid basketball, but with CP3 (hip) and Blake Griffin (knee sprain) not being one hundred percent going into the next round against the Spurs…I am nervous. I may be covering my eyes, watching in between the slits of my fingers as Clipper go head to head with seasoned, hot handed Spurs.