Apr 13, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) reacts during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 91-87. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

NBA Western Conference Playoffs Prediction: #4 Los Angeles Clippers v. #5 Memphis Grizzlies

The Clips shot the 10th most 3s in the league this year while the Grizz practically ignored them altogether. The Grizz could play 5 guys 40+ minutes, while the Clips go 9 or 10 deep.

Clippers probable starting lineup:

PG Chris Paul

SG Chauncey Billups

SF Caron Butler

PF Blake Griffin

C DeAndre Jordan

Billups’ minutes will be limited due to Father Time’s nagging injuries, but he’s said to feel fine. The Clippers have more quality depth than Memphis with Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Willie Green and Lamar Odom coming off the bench.

The quickness of Tony Allen is likely to be wasted on Billups. An intriguing cross-matchup with Allen on Paul and Conley on Green, Crawford or Bledsoe when Billups ends up missing time could turn the tide for Memphis.

Grizzlies probable starting lineup:

PG Mike Conley

SG Tony Allen

SF Tayshaun Prince

PF Zach Randolph

C Marc Gasol

Z-Bo stands a chance against Griffin inside, but is likely to foul out if Blake can get him on the perimeter and try and take him off the dribble. Ed Davis could end up getting some significant minutes, which could be interesting, but letting Blake shoot 15-footers is a good strategy.

The matchup in the middle poses some serious contrasts, with Gasol’s mammoth, immovable presence inside and deft touch in the high post (for 13 million dollars this year) lining up against Jordan’s athletic and… dunking… blocking shots… fouling… (for 10 million dollars this year.)

Unlike the Eastern Conference’s 4/5 matchup of terribly slow and boring teams, this one has a highlight factory with depth and a serious defense with size — so you could at least argue they each would have a shot against the #1 seed next round.

I like the Clips’ depth and ability to hit the 3 and Memphis’ better frontline and coach, just not their ability to consistently hit shots.

Prediction: Clippers in 7.

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Tags: Chris Paul Deandre Jordan Los Angeles Clippers Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies Nba Playoffs Playoff Predictions Predictions Pregame Preview Tony Allen Western Conference Playoffs

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