WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Kyle Anderson (Doubtful, back), Brandon Clarke (Out, knee), Sam Merill (Out, ankle), Ziaire Williams (Out, ankle), Ja Morant (Out, knee) — Based on injury report prior to last night’s game
LOS ANGELES: Trevor Ariza (Out, right ankle surgery recovery), Kendrick Nunn (Out, right knee bone bruise), Anthony Davis (Probable, left thumb sprain), LeBron James (Probable, rectus abdominal strain)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
The great part about the NBA is the quick turnaround time. It’s quick enough where you can’t get too high for too long after a win, nor too low after a loss. There’s an opportunity to bounce back rather quickly.
So, after a loss that snapped a 5-game losing streak, the Memphis Grizzlies have a chance for redemption in a unique back-to-back on their home court. Nonetheless, there won’t be an easy opposition on the other side — as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Lakers come to town.
The Grizzlies will be looking to start a new winning streak, and even though the Lakers have been pretty inconsistent, it’ll still be a tall task ahead. What will be the keys to bounce back and snag a win?
Stop the 3-point line
Everyone probably remembers Carmelo Anthony turning back the clock and canning 6 three’s in their win against Memphis earlier in the season. If explosions like that happen, then the Grizzlies won’t have a good chance at winning this game.
Expanding out to a team view, the 3-point defense is pretty synonymous with Grizzlies losses. It’s been getting better recently, as luck and statistics are starting to normalize and the Grizzlies have been making the necessary adjustments with their rotations and shifts.
However, the Lakers cast of role players are the ones that could make them pay from deep. Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis aren’t threats from deep, in terms of percentages or volume. LeBron James is going to get his, he’s LeBron. The Lakers, though, have done a fairly decent job of adding shooters around them. The aforementioned Carmelo is shooting a career-best 41.7% from 3 on 6 attempts per game. Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk are other bench weapons that could get hot from 3 as well.
Defense was a common theme in the Grizzlies winning streak, and making sure their defense is in tip-top shape will be crucial in tonight’s game.
Staying out of foul trouble
After that officiating monstrosity last night, the Grizzlies will hope to benefit from a better whistle tonight. While bad whistles may have been a focal point, they also need to focus on the stuff they can control — cheap fouls, falling for fakes, illegal screens, stuff like that.
And it really starts with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks.
These two players will be the primary defenders on LeBron and Davis, so they will be put in spots where it could get tricky for a call, or where they’ll have to play it smart on that end of the floor. So there needs to be a good sense of controlling what they can control.
And I promise this isn’t a defense-centric preview. This concept is important, because Jackson and Brooks — along with Desmond Bane — are the best resources of offensive firepower. You need as much of that as you could against going up against a team with this much All-Star quality players like the Lakers.
It’s paramount to the team’s success tonight.
With both of these teams, you don’t know what you’re going to get each and every night. They could be a wee bit inconsistent.
This is a matchup where the Memphis Grizzlies could really use Ja Morant and a strength of numbers. I’m going to shoot for a reverse jinx here.
Final prediction: Lakers 110, Grizzlies 103