Game 7 Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Odds and Predictions – Free NBA Playoff Picks 5/13/2012:After a thrilling comeback, a pair of one-point victories and an overtime win, the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers were up 3-1 in their series with the fourth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and on the verge of heading to the second round. However, closing out the series has been anything but easy for a franchise famous for its losing tradition, and a Game 7 Sunday in Memphis will decide the fate of both teams. To their credit, the Grizzlies have been able to cling to life after letting a couple of leads slip away early in the series, and with the momentum back in their corner, they are six-point favorites on their home court in Sunday’s game.

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Defense has been the theme of this very competitive series. Both sides have reached 100 or more points only once in the first six games, and one of those games went to overtime. The defensive-oriented series would have seemed to favor the Grizzlies, who ranked fifth in the NBA in scoring defense and were a much better rebounding team than the Clippers during the regular season. However, Los Angeles has more than held its own playing at Memphis’ pace, and with six five of the six games being decided by seven points or less, including three by two points or less, there is no reason to expect anything but another close game Sunday.

There is no secret to why the Grizzlies have turned the table on the Clippers the last two games. The Memphis frontcourt of center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph dominated the paint in Game 5 and Game 6, playing the physical game that was Grizzlies’ calling card all season. If Gasol and Randolph continue to punish the Clippers inside, another Grizzlies’ victory could be on tap. The style of play has also taken a toll on the health of Los Angeles stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who are both nursing nagging injuries heading into Sunday’s crucial game.

Of course, Los Angeles has one of the top weapons in the NBA in Paul. Arguably the best pure point guard in the game, his ability to direct an offense and control the pace of a game gives the Clippers a fighting chance against any opponent. However, the hip injury he suffered in Game 5 appears to playing a factor. Paul’s production dipped after in the injury, and it carried over into Game 6. Paul is the type of player that can play through pain and do so at a high level, but having their best player at less than 100 percent is definitely a hurdle for the Clippers.

For the Grizzlies, the X-factor in the game could be small forward Rudy Gay. His length and athleticism make him tough to defend, and when he is aggressive, he can take over a game on the offensive end. If push comes to shove and the Memphis big men are struggling, Gay could come to the rescue. The Clippers, on the other hand, don’t really have a perimeter scorer they can depend on. Nick Young, Mo Williams and Caron Butler have all had decent games every now and then, but all three players have struggled with consistency.

In the end, the size advantage of Memphis coupled with the injuries to the Clippers’ two best players just doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles. The Grizzlies have already stolen the momentum, and with the home crowd on their side, they should be able to get the job done and move on. However, the nature of this series makes a six-point spread a bit daunting. Injured or not, Paul and company won’t go down without a fight.

Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers (+7.5) Cover the Spread

Current Odds: Favorite - Memphis -7.5 Total - OVER/UNDER 176.5

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