MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Grizzlies have played the Los Angeles Clippers enough the past year to know that nothing is over until the final buzzer.
Sure, Blake Griffin is questionable with a sprained ankle and Chris Paul has a left thumb bruised. But the resilient Clippers are deep and talented.
That is why the Grizzlies are focusing only on themselves and their defense, the inside games of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, along with the work ethic they call grit and grind. They are 3-0 in Game 6s, and they lead the Clippers 3-2 going into Friday night's contest in this first-round, best-of-seven series.
But Memphis has lost both Game 7s the franchise has played in the past two playoffs — at Oklahoma City in 2011 and on the Grizzlies' own court a year ago to these same Clippers.
"We've had to deal with just growing pains I think in the playoffs, and hopefully all those experiences will help us come tomorrow and we'll be able to get it done," Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said Thursday.
The Grizzlies are on the verge of rallying from an 0-2 deficit to win a seven-game series, which has been done 15 times with Oklahoma City the last to do it — beating San Antonio in the Western Conference finals last year. In the process, the Grizzlies have won three straight postseason games for the first time and have their first series lead since being up 2-1 on Oklahoma City in 2011.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins is pitching this as a two-game series that has the potential to be one if his Grizzlies take care of business before a sold-out crowd. He likes how his Grizzlies have prepared and played with discipline since losing the opener in Los Angeles.
"Now we're on the cusp of maybe moving on," Hollins said.
Griffin will likely be a game-time decision Friday night with the sprained right ankle that kept him on the bench in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's 103-93 win by Memphis in Los Angeles. He has been receiving constant treatment and said Thursday that his ankle feels better before the Clippers caught a flight to Memphis.
Paul had his left hand bandaged after that loss but plans to play. He matched his postseason high with 35 points in that loss but says he has to do a better job getting his teammates involved. If Griffin can't play, Paul said they will have to use a committee approach and may have to go small.
The Clippers do know they can win in Memphis. They took Game 1 in last year's series chewing away a big Memphis' lead, took Game 7 by a score of 82-72 and won both games during the regular season in Memphis to grab home-court advantage for this series as the No. 4 seed between teams with the same records.
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