WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), De’Anthony Melton (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Santi Aldama (Out, calf), Jarrett Culver (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle), Ziaire Williams (Out, Ankle), John Konchar (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
Los Angeles Lakers: Wayne Ellington (Out), Austin Reaves (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Kent Bazemore (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Rajon Rondo (Out), Trevor Ariza (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Anthony Davis (Out, Sprained MCL), Kendrick Nunn (Out, knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Malik Monk, LeBron James, Stanley Johnson
It’s another man down for the team with the mentality of ‘next man up.’ After starting the first two games of his career, John Konchar is the latest Grizzlies player to enter health and safety protocols. Konchar is one of seven players the Grizzlies will be without when the Lake Show visits FedExForum for the second time this month. In the first meeting, the Grizzlies were not kind hosts as they knocked off the Lakers 108-95 despite a triple-double from LeBron.
The Grizzlies are not the only team dealing with a long injury list – the Lakers will also be without seven of its players, including Anthony Davis. To fill out their roster, the Lakers signed NBA vets Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson. Johnson was immediately inserted into the starting lineup in Tuesday night’s game against Houston.
As the Grizzlies enter tonight’s matchup, they are on a two-game winning streak that follows a three-game losing streak. In the first win, the Grizzlies used a big second-half surge to pull away from Sacramento. Meanwhile, while it was an impressive win Monday at Phoenix, it did take some late game heroics from Ja Morant to get the win after blowing a double-digit lead late.
Here are some keys to the game as the Grizzlies look to make it three in a row;
Dominate the Paint
This goes for both ends of the floor. If the Grizzlies stick to what they do well, then they should have no problem picking up another win against the Lakers. The Grizzlies lead the league in offensive rebounds, second in points in the paint, and third in blocks.
In their last two games, the Grizz have scored 62 and 72 points in the paint. They’ve also been hitting the offensive glass hard, turning 34 offensive rebounds into 56 second chance points.
An underrated part of these last couple of games has been the play of Steven Adams – he’s been doing his usual dirty work of cleaning up the glass, but also pulled some fancy passing out of his bag, totaling 13 assists in the past two wins. Adams, along with Jaren Jackson Jr. should be able to take advantage of the smaller frontcourt of the Lakers with AD out.
Balance with Bane and Ja
The league is taking notice of the Grizzlies young backcourt. It’s not just Ja Morant that’s getting the attention – Desmond Bane’s play this season has made people pay attention as well. One night after putting up 28 in a win over Sacramento, he set a career high with 32 against Phoenix.
Not to be outdone, Ja Morant put up 33, including the game-winner, in the Phoenix game. That comes a night after flirting with a triple-double against Sacramento.
In both of those games, Bane came out on fire in the first half, while Ja took over in the second. In Monday’s win, both hit some big-time shots down the stretch. It’s a good balance between the two with Bane coming out firing, while Ja is able to get a read on how the game is developing and is able to take advantage.
Control the Pace
Both teams are dealing with injuries and COVID, so it will be interesting to see just how fast the pace will be in tonight’s game. Currently, the Lakers lead the league in PACE. The Grizzlies can run with them, but if they do, they need to make sure they don’t settle for shots.
Even on the second game of a back-to-back, LeBron and Russell Westbrook will be able to push the ball, so it will be up to the Grizzlies to stop them. Also, the newly signed Darren Collison has a history of going off against the Grizzlies, so they will need to keep him in check as well.
In tonight’s matchup, the Lakers have the best player in LeBron but the Grizzlies have the better and deeper team. It may come down to which team stays out of foul trouble and gets the most out of its bench.
In saying that, I think the hundreds of Lakers fans who have never visited LA that will fill into FedExForum will go home disappointed once again.
Final: GRIZZLIES 112, Lakers 103