WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, knee), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
L.A. LAKERS: Brandon Ingram (Out, ankle), Rajon Rondo (Out, hand)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
L.A. LAKERS: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee
Tonight’s game is a tale of two very different teams.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, coming off of an impressive victory in New Orleans against a very game Pelicans team, it comes down to the collective playing as one. While Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are the cornerstones of the franchise, there is no true “superstar” on the roster. When the Grizzlies defend as one, they’re tough to beat. When they execute offensively and move the ball well, they’re tough to beat. When either, or both, of these truths disappear, Memphis is in trouble because outside of Mike Conley (who gets tired because he is counted on to do this too often) there is little or no ability to take over a game...at least consistently.
For the Lakers? It starts with LeBron James, who comes to LaLa Land looking for a better quality of life and with grander professional aspirations beyond the basketball floor. But make no mistake, LeBron still prioritizes basketball and wants to compete at as high of a level as possible. Because of that, a unique collection of veterans and youth have been assembled to play alongside the greatest player of this generation, and the hodge podge of talent is taking time to gel. Defensively L.A. is impressive, but beyond LeBron on any given night it is up in the air who will be able to support him scoring. The third leading scorer for the Lakers, Brandon Ingram, is out tonight so this will be more true than normal in Memphis this evening.
Here are some quick keys to victory for Memphis-
- Keep Jaren Jackson Jr. on the floor. Thanks (thanks?) to foul trouble and the great performances of JaMychal Green and Joakim Noah last night, Jaren Jackson Jr. only played 15 minutes in the win against the Pelicans. JJJ should be fresh, and it is unlikely that Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasler can handle Jaren on either end of the floor consistently. Opposing teams are going at attack Jackson and try to get him in foul trouble early. He must show progress here, and Bickerstaff must put Jaren in spots where foul trouble will be harder to come by.
- Find, and limit, KCP. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope serves the role of sixth man on this Lakers team, and he has the ability in that role to both shut down a team’s best reserve wing and also score the ball in a variety of ways as leader of the L.A. second unit. He has struggled at times this year, but his talent and athleticism could cause issues against the likes of MarShon Brooks and Shelvin Mack. Coach Bickerstaff must stagger rotations and not allow for KCP to break out.
- Play your game. The Lakers are currently 5th in the NBA in pace, and it is no secret that the Grizzlies are not very good at keeping up with that tempo for a full 48 minutes. Memphis must force L.A. to play a half court game and execute in offensive sets and defensive rotations. Transition is not the friend of the Grizzlies, unless it comes with easy buckets off of turnovers.
LeBron James will have to carry the Lakers for long stretches, and the times where he is not on the floor will hurt L.A. more than normal because of Ingram being out. The Lakers are also on the 2nd night of a back to back, so Memphis takes advantage of home court and will pull away in the 4th quarter.
Memphis 105, L.A. 101