Nick Young scored a team-high 19 points and hit three consecutive three-point… (Mike Brown / EPA )
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Nick Young is expected to start in place of injured small forward Caron Butler when the Clippers play Game 2 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Clippers lead the series, 1-0.
Young has been effective off the bench.
He was especially good in that role Sunday, when he scored a team-high 19 points and hit three consecutive three-point shots late in the fourth quarter to help his team complete an improbable 99-98 comeback win after trailing by as many as 27 points.
“He had a big role for us in Game 1 and he’s going to have a bigger role now that Caron is out,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Tuesday.
Though Young is expected to start in place of Butler, who suffered a fractured left hand Sunday and is expected to be out four to six weeks, it’s not clear if Young will play all of the nearly 30 minutes per game Butler averaged during the regular season.
Veteran forward Bobby Simmons might also play some small forward and so too might guard Randy Foye, depending on matchups, Del Negro said. Still, Young is expected to get the lion’s share of the playing time.
“I’m just ready for whatever,” Young said.
With Butler out and with shooting guard Chauncey Billups also sidelined since February by a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon, the Clippers are without two of their most influential leaders.
“It’s a huge challenge because Caron brings something to us, not just athletically and physically on the court, [but] just his personality and who he is,” Chris Paul said. “He’s definitely a strong force.”
Butler scored 12 points in 23 minutes in Game 1, but his defense on the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, Rudy Gay, was especially valuable.
“We went to the same college (Connecticut) and I’ve been around him a lot so I know a lot of his tendencies,” said Butler, who had a season-ending ruptured patella tendon in his right knee last year when he played with Dallas.
Butler wouldn’t divulge what those tendencies are, but he said he’s been schooling Young and Simmons on how to guard the 6-foot-8 Gay.
“Bobby has been watching a lot of film,” Butler said. “He’s prepared for this challenge. Nick is as well.”
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