WHERE: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
WHEN: 2:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Vince Carter (Out, rest), Marc Gasol (Out, foot), JaMychal Green (Out, shoulder), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), Andrew Harrison (Questionable, ankle)
L.A. LAKERS- Luol Deng (Out, Coach’s Decision), Timofey Mozgov (Out, Coach’s Decision), Nick Young (Doubtful, Coach’s Decision), Ivica Zubac (Out, ankle)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS-
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Troy Daniels, James Ennis, Brandan Wright
L.A. LAKERS- D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle
Do you want the good news first or the bad news first?
OK, the bad news is the Grizzlies are potentially missing five players today, including three starters (JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol, Chandler Parsons). They will be resting Vince Carter (probably belongs in the good news section, but hey) and may be without Andrew Harrison as well. They’re playing on the west coast in a matinee contest and historically have not always had the most consistent performances against teams at the bottom of the standings like the Lakers.
That’s the bad news. The good news?
- Mike Conley is playing the best basketball of his life.
- Zach Randolph is back to thriving while coming off the bench.
- The Lakers will be without four players themselves, three of which are self-inflicted as L.A. opts to play younger players as they end their season.
- This has set up the Lakers in a prime tanking position. L.A. is 2-18 in their last 20 games and appear to have no desire whatsoever to field a team competitive enough to win. Out of those 18 losses, they have lost by double figures in 13 of them.
- Oh, and there’s a watch party today that if you’re in the Memphis area you should totally attend.
Memphis seems to see an opportunity to rest key guys before the playoffs. How do they win without so many rotation players out?
Ride the Hot Hand and Do You
Games like this one are relatively simple. Compete. Execute. Play the game the way you have wanted to play the entire season. The opponent this afternoon has almost certainly already booked their vacation plans for as soon as the season is over. They’re making conscious decisions to focus on the future, while the Grizzlies are very much interested in the present. While Marc Gasol has been out, his Core Four counterparts have picked up the slack, especially Mike Conley and Zach Randolph.
If that continues? If the Grizzlies commit to defending as a team and protecting possessions? If Memphis can move the ball and get open looks from beyond the arc, and convert them? The bears of Beale Street will win by double digits. But if they simply show up expecting to win, they will miss out on a massive opportunity.
They have to be themselves. The good version. Not the version that takes anything for granted. They’re not good enough to do that.
Even with all the absences from the Grizzlies lineup, it is hard to see Memphis dropping this game. The Lakers are playing with a purposely weakened deck. The “focus on getting young guys time” conveniently allows for L.A. to lose to get as good of a draft pick as possible. While it may be close for a while, the duo of Conley and Randolph will close this game out and hopefully have reinforcements arrive by Tuesday & Wednesday’s key back to back set.
MEMPHIS 114, L.A. LAKERS 102