The Los Angeles Lakers are 13 days away from the end of the 82 game regular season. Pretty much everyone says the NBA season is too long, and most of those people don’t even play for the Lakers–for them it’s been an eternity. The Lakers have 7 more games to play, 6 of them at home (if you count at the Clippers on Sunday). Their upcoming opponent at STAPLES Center is the defensive minded Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are looking like one of those teams it would be nice to avoid in the playoffs. Then again, they have looked like that team for the last 2 seasons as well without a lot to show for it. The Grizzlies have won their last 4, and 7 of their last 10.
They’ve been led over this time not by Rudy Gay who was sent to Toronto midseason, but by Mike Conley Jr. The Robin to Greg Oden‘s Batman while growing up and through a single season at Ohio State, Mike Conley has been an absolute steal as a pro. Never even considered in the upper half of point guards in the league, Conley sets up his teammates well, pushes the ball, plays good defense, can create his own shot and hits big shots down the stretch. What else do you want? Conley is averaging almost 15 points a contest, over 6 assists, and is second in the NBA in steals.
The Lakers have not matched up well in their two losses to the Grizzlies this season. Each time the defensive minded Grizzlies have scored over 100 points, while holding the Lakers under that mark. The Lakers victory on Monday had them hold the Mavericks to a season low 80 points, but I would attribute that to a half of terrible shooting rather than the excellent defense.
What the Lakers do have going for them in this matchup is Steve Blake is moving the ball well from the point, and they have Pau Gasol back. Pau hasn’t been stellar, but Pau if only through familiarity can limit the effectiveness of Marc Gasol in the post as a scorer, rebounder, and facilitator. If Pau rises to the challenge, the Lakers can get this much needed win before their big matchup against the Clippers on Sunday.