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Bet on the NBAAfter that amazing 27-point fourth quarter comeback led by Chris Paul, was there ever any real doubt that the Clippers had everything they needed to win their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies? It was not an easy road to victory, but Paul and Blake Griffin carried their team for most of the series until both got injured by Game 5 and came up just short in a close out Game 6 in Los Angeles. But then the Clippers bench came up huge in Game 7, scoring half of the team's points and leading them to an 82-72 victory in Memphis.



Everyone expected a hard fought series, but that the Grizzlies would eventually come out on top. Especially in Game 7 at home, the Grizzlies were expected to win. Just last year, this team had eliminated the topranked San Antonio Spurs to become one of the few eighth seeded teams in NBA history to defeat a top seeded basketball ogranization in the first round. They were expected to come into this year's playoffs with a better position and make it to the conference semifinals at the very minimum.

But the same injuries that plagued the league this year hit the Grizzlies hard, as well. Zach Randolph, undoubtedly the hero of last year's Memphis playoff run, injured his knee during the regular season and never came back to 100%. If Randolph had been able to play, we might be having a different conversation right now. As it stands, though, the injured Grizzlies go home and recover while the slightly less injured Clippers meet the healthy Spurs in the nextround of the playoffs.

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While this is a great victory for the Clippers and a vindication of how good Chris Paul makes their team, the second round is more than likely the team's ceiling. Can they get past a Spurs team that is finally at full health and has had more than a week to recover and practice? The Clippers might provide more of a challenge for San Antonio than the Jazz, but the Spurs will almost certainly advance to the conference finals instead of Los Angeles.

 

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