WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley (Probable, knee), Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, quad)
L.A. LAKERS: Mike Muscala (Probable, ankle), Lonzo Ball (Out, ankle),
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday, Ivan Rabb, Jonas Valanciunas
L.A. LAKERS: LeBron James, Reggie Bullock, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee
You’re not going to believe this...but there may be a team struggling more mightily than the Memphis Grizzlies.
No, they haven’t gone 5-20 in the calendar year 2019.
No, they aren’t without their three best young players due to injury.
No, they don’t have a first round pick owed to Boston at some point over the next three drafts.
At least the Grizzlies don’t dislike each other...that we know about.
It would be hard to, of course. The new Grizzlies hype video before the introduction of starters includes each player and their names, surely a nod to all the new faces in Beale Street Blue...
As the new-look Grizzlies look to come together - and fast - as they try to achieve an increasingly difficult goal of conveying their draft obligation to Boston, out west LeBron James and his Lakers are underachieving. Most thought it would be a challenge for King James to change kingdoms and make the west his new domain, considering how tough the competition is in the Western Conference is and how young the Lakers are. The team’s offseason signings (Lance Stephenson, really?) were questioned, and of course their handling of the trade deadline and their failure to trade for Anthony Davis, have alladded up to discontent and a team currently on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, may not be in the postseason.
His move to L.A. was not about picking the best team to win the Finals with in 2019. Missing the playoffs entirely, though, would be a bitter pill to swallow. After the low of getting beat by the Pelicans in New Orleans, with Davis sitting out, this may be the King’s time to take off and carry a team toward an achievement many feel is unlikely. It wouldn’t be the first time...and it probably won’t be the last.
Unfortunately, if this theory holds true, Memphis will be the first in the crosshairs of LeBron.
Can Memphis add to the frustration of the James gang? The key to the game-
The new look brothers from other mothers?
Once upon a time, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol bullied the blocks in Memphis and established themselves as a formidable front court for the league to fear. Now, with them both gone, a new-look group of bigs is establishing themselves for the Grizzlies...but with Jaren Jackson Jr. out due to injury they look a bit different than we initially anticipated.
The collective of Ivan Rabb, Joakim Noah, and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 49 points, 21 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 blocks, and a combined 58.8% shooting night against the Cavaliers on Saturday. Without their efforts, the game in Cleveland likely gets, and stays, ugly. But it was these new Grizzlies performing as a unit down low that gave Memphis a chance.
The Lakers front court is not as imposing as that of the Cavaliers - LeBron probably missed Kevin Love a lot. Kyle Kuzma is having a very good season, but beyond him the bigs that L.A. will trot out against Memphis will struggle with the physicality and energy that Noah, and especially Valanciunas, bring to the table. If Memphis is to win this game, their post players will have to lead the way.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There is one less key than normal in this preview, and that is for a reason. As the season grinds along, the Grizzlies will need to depend more and more on simply playing hard and executing effectively. Only so much breaking down of numbers and movements can connect to what Memphis has to have come about to succeed. They must play for their NBA survival as individuals, and through that they can, in the aggregate, compete in a way that will make their city proud.
Coaching is suspect. Front office structure is uncertain. The players on the floor...it is on them to compete in the midst of real adversity.
Look for that process to continue tonight...but unfortunately, they’re playing against the best player in the world...and he is pissed off.
The Grizzlies will fight...but LeBron will lead the way.
L.A. Lakers 109, Memphis 102