In 2012, and 2013 the ‘Grit N Grind’ Memphis Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers, famously known as Lob City, gave fans some of the most exciting first-round playoff series. The Grizzlies were led by Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley Jr, and Tony Allen, while the Clippers had Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Jamal Crawford, to name a few. Both playoff series went to 7 games, and it was also a clash of two up-and-coming teams in the western conference that played utterly different brands of basketball.
The Grizzlies played a defense-oriented basketball in which a lot of their offense was coming inside the paint. On the other hand, the Clippers relied heavily on Chris Paul and playing above the rim with prime Griffin and Jordan surrounded by a few great shooters in Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, and Chauncey Billups. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies in the first round of the 2012 playoffs in seven games. However, the following year, surprisingly enough, both teams matched up again in the first round going to seven games, and the Grizzlies finally getting their revenge.
In a recent interview with BasketballNews, Grizzlies legend and leader of that squad, Zach Randolph, talked about the rivalry and what made those games special. He referred to it as a bunch of battles that he will appreciate forever, especially those with Blake Griffin in the paint.
We used to battle; we knew it was a battle. Coming in playing the Clippers, every game is going to be about Blake. He was super strong, athletic, C.P., and that was a tough team. We had fun, and we knew we need to come and battle. It was sweet when we beat them and vice versa; probably it felt the same way for them. It was just a bunch of battles, and there are no friends on the court. My only friends are my teammates, so that is how I approached the game. So we were scratching and scratching and doing everything we had to do in grit and grind.Zach Randolph, via BasketballNews
Randolph also explained what happened in game 6 of the 2013 playoffs. He and Blake got into a scuffle in which Randolph was accused of choking Griffin. These two had some serious battles in the post, and with both of them playing extremely physically, these things tend to happen when you’re competing hard, especially in the playoffs. Randolph still has fond memories of those series and appreciates his rivalry against Griffin.
Blake is so strong that he is going to clip you and trying to do all the dirty things the referees don’t see, and he had me locked. I thought he would break my arm, so what I did I just put my weight on him, I just fell on him because he had my arm locked. When I fall on him, it just looked like my left hand got by with a stroke. But Blake is my man. We had a lot of battles, and those were some fun times of my career. Those battles with the Clippers.Zach Randolph, via BasketballNews
Those matchups between the Grizzlies and Clippers were truly one of the most underrated playoff series in recent times, especially when you consider both were in the first round. Neither team had any success in making it to the NBA finals during those years, but they were constantly very close. It was a clash of two completely different teams with different philosophies going all out every single game, with the amount of physicality you will rarely see in the league today.