Clippers out to protect home court advantage

It’s the same two teams that played to the seventh game in last year’s playoffs. They compiled the same record of 56-26 over the 2012-13 season.
But for the Clippers, tonight’s Game 1 of their best-of-7 Western Conference playoff series does have a distinctly different feel as they face Memphis at Staples Center (Fox Sports West, ESPN).
“Last year was last year, this is a totally different team,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We have the home court, so we want to take advantage of it.”
It’s no secret that the contrasts of the two teams, and how they want to impose their own strengths, will figure prominently in the outcome of the series. The Clippers, of course, would limke nothing better to get their high-wire act going in transition and the Grizzlies would prefer to bludgeon their opponents with a physical game.
Yet the Clippers believe they are equipped to deal with that and are riding the confidence of having won three of the four meetings this season with the Grizzlies, including a 91-87 road victory in the last week of the season.
“DeAndre (Jordan) and Blake (Griffin) are young and physical themselves, so I don’t see that as an issue,” Del Negro said. “We know what type of game they like to play. We like to play our style, play at a tempo that’s comfortable for us and one way we can do that is by rebounding the ball well and being physical ourselves and doing all the little things.
“Our guards have to rebound the ball well and then play the tempo we want to play. The physicality takes care of itself. We just have to battle through it, keep our emotions in check and it comes down to execution.”
Neither team listed a player under the injury report. Griffin experienced back spasms during the regular season finale in Sacramento, but Del Negro said Griffin practiced without incident on Friday.

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