The NBA playoffs are finally upon us. And for the Memphis Grizzlies are in a familiar spot; however, they will face one of the league’s marquee franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the opening round. Memphis closed the regular season despite having an off-the-court transaction involving their star player Ja Morant maintaining their status as a top-five seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers were on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second-straight year until the front office made critical moves during the trade deadline. They moved on from former MVP point guard Russell Westbrook and added players such as D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Rui Hachimura, Davon Reed, and Mo Bamba before the trade deadline expired.
Los Angeles also acquired the Clippers’ 2024 and 2025 second-round picks. Basically, the Lakers assembled a brand new team. The retooled roster was able to go on a deep run that would allow them to get back into playoff contention as the season was coming to a close. Los Angeles qualified for the play-in tournament and would advance to the playoffs’ first round as the West’s seventh seed. The series starting in Memphis gives the Grizzlies the advantage of having their home crowd to build momentum off of, and if the series goes to seven games, it will be played at FedEx Forum.
However, those factors will not mean anything if they cannot win these games. They must close out the Lakers with each opportunity, especially when the series shifts to Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. If you paid close attention to the Lakers versus Grizzlies matchups, you could tell that the Grizzlies are the deeper and more talented team. The Lakers won two regular-season matchups with the Grizzlies, but the margin was ten points or less.
The debacle that took place on January 20 is what the Grizzlies cannot allow occurring once again. Memphis was in total control of the game until the incident between Shannon Sharpe and Dillon Brooks. Both teams had to be separated by the officials, and once the game resumed, the momentum shifted to the Lakers. Los Angeles would go on to win 121-120 over Memphis.
Lakers Scouting Report
The Lakers will have capabilities to use to their advantage in the playoff series against Memphis. One of them is that they have one of the greatest players ever to step foot in the league LeBron James. The 19-time all-star leads the Lakers in scoring (28.9), rebounding (8.3), assists (6.8), and minutes played (35.5). His teammate Anthony Davis is the team’s second-leading, scoring 25.9 points per game. As a team, the Lakers ranked sixth in scoring (117.2), sixth in rebounds (45.7), 15th in assists (25.2), and 10th in field goal percentage (48.2).
Strike 7 Staff Series Predictions and Picks
Derrick: The series will boil down to which team can be dominant in the paint. Los Angeles and Memphis are both ranked within the top ten in the rebounding department, however; the Grizzlies lose some size in the interior by not having center Steven Adams available. But Memphis has pressed on despite not having a rim protector like Adams on the court. On the other hand, the Lakers have proven to be resilient despite the ups and downs of their regular season campaign. If there’s anybody that can rise to the occasion when the odds are stacked, it is LeBron James. But his supporting cast must be strong as ever.
James is no longer the player that can put on Superman-like performances in playoff games as he did against the Warriors several years ago. That’s why it is imperative that AD can stay healthy and remain on the court. While the Lakers’ revamped roster was good enough to get them to the postseason, they may not have enough firepower to deal with the Grizzlies for a seven-game series.
Pick: Grizzlies in Six
Liaudwin: The Lakers and Grizzlies will undoubtedly vie for the most compelling one of them all when it comes to the NBA playoffs. Los Angeles defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves to become the 7th seed in the Western Conference. With Memphis already locked in as the second seed, I predict a long series between both teams. However, I think that the Lakers emerge victorious in 6 games. With Lebron James and Anthony Davis spearheading the LA attack, I believe they will be too much for the young Grizzlies to handle. While Memphis is loaded in the backcourt with star guard Ja Morant and sharpshooter Desmond Bane, I think Bron-AD will neutralize their performances, and the Lakers will secure the series.
Pick: Lakers in Six
Brian: The upcoming playoff series between the Lakers and Grizzlies will surely be a closely contested battle. However, after analyzing the strengths of both teams, I predict that the Lakers will come out on top in six games.
One of the Lakers’ most significant advantages in this series is the presence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, arguably the two best players in the series. Their combined scoring, rebounding, and playmaking abilities are unmatched, and they will be a handful for the Grizzlies’ defense.
In addition to the star power of James and Davis, the Lakers have a strong supporting cast that can provide crucial contributions. Austin Reeves, Malik Beasley, and Dennis Schroeder can hit big shots and make key defensive plays. I believe that their production, combined with the Lakers’ dominant duo, will be enough to secure the series’ victory.
While the Grizzlies have a talented team, the Lakers’ experience, and depth will ultimately prove too much to handle. Look for the Lakers to win in six games and advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Pick: Lakers in Six
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