In what will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first game back after the All-Star Break, the team welcomes the 28-27 Memphis Grizzlies to the Staples Center in what should be a great matchup.
The Los Angeles Lakers come into this game off the back of a three-game winning streak pre-All-Star Break and several key players will come into this fresh from the break. Of course, Anthony Davis and LeBron James were heavily involved in the Chicago-hosted event, but both will have their minds now fully on tonight’s matchup.
The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off a tight 129-125 loss to the Sacramento Kings last night. They struggled to contain the hot hand of Harrison Barnes, who ended the night with 32 points. Going into the second game of a back to back against the fresh Los Angeles Lakers may prove difficult for this Memphis squad.
Key Opponent – Ja Morant
Ja Morant has been the rookie of the year this season. That is a statement that is undeniable. The 2nd pick in the draft has averaged 17.7 points and 7 assists in his 1st year in the league and has shown an enviable work ethic and commitment to win.
On the flip side, we have the Los Angeles Lakers point guard roulette. By this, I mean that LeBron runs the point from an offensive perspective but you will see likely see Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo guarding Morant in tonight match up.
Bradley is an elite defender who will really test Morant’s offensive skill set whereas we will need to see Rondo step up against the tenacious rookie.
On the defensive end, Morant will need to figure out how to guard against an elite level offensive unit in the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, with Morant’s exceptional offense comes some shortcomings on the defensive end, so it will be up to the Lakers to exploit these.
This Season’s Matchups
The two teams have met twice so far this season. Both ended in a Lakers W but both told very different stories.
In the first matchup, the Lakers took the game 120-91 in a blowout win, with Anthony Davis going for 40 points and 20 rebounds in 31 minutes.
The second time the two teams met, the Lakers merely crept past the Grizzlies with a 109-108 victory. Morant was a menace in the second matchup scoring 26 points whilst being backed up by Jaren Jackson Jr and Jae Crowder, both of whom scored 20+ points.
The Grizzlies’ roster looks a little different from the two previous matchups, with Jae Crowder now finding himself in Miami. Justise Winslow, a new addition to the roster is likely out of the game with a back injury which has kept him unavailable for the 17th straight game.
The Lakers go into the game fresh and with only Anthony Davis listed as probable, as he has been all season.
The Lakers are clearly heavy favorites for this one, but the playoff-caliber Grizzlies will be no pushovers. I can see a 116-109 win for the Lakers.