He scored 47 points in the first two games on 57.1 percent shooting, including the cold-blooded game winner on Monday night. You’d expect top level defenders like Conley and Allen to limit Paul to something close to his 17 points per game average from the regular season. Those guys aren’t getting it done.
Memphis doesn’t really have an answer for L.A.’s strong second unit. It’s nearly impossible (Memphis almost pulled it off) to win a playoff game when your bench is outscored 33-11, and the Grizzlies players who came over in the Rudy Gay trade (Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis) were a combined 2-for-11 from the field. Looking at the Game 2 box score, every Memphis starter has a positive plus/minus while every bench player has a negative differential. It was a carryover from Game One, when L.A. won the bench scoring battle 49-40 despite the Grizzlies’ reserves playing extended minutes in a blowout.
Crawford has a lot to do with the team’s bench dominance. He’s averaged 14 points on 11-for-23 shooting over the first pair of games, while registering a +20 so far. That plus/minus differential is tied with Matt Barnes for the best marks in the series. It comes as no coincidence that the most productive players in this category are both Clippers bench players. If Memphis does not take care of these two critical areas, it’s going to be a short series.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and a writer for Football.com. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.