Lakers vs. Grizzlies: First Round Preview

The Lakers climbed their way up the standings after the trade deadline and will now take on the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. Memphis is the 2nd seed in the West and is a great team.

The Grizzlies are led by star guard Ja Morant, one of the most explosive and best players in the league. Morant averaged 26/6/8 this season and is a dynamic guard. 

Their other All-Star is Jaren Jackson Jr, the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner. Jackson Jr averaged 19/7/1 with three blocks per game. They also have Desmond Bane, a great shooting guard that averaged 22/5/4 while shooting 40.8% from three.  

Dillon Brooks is another one of their key players. He is their enforcer and defensive pest that can also get hot offensively. Tyus Jones runs their bench unit as the backup point guard and is a great playmaker and solid scorer. 

Luke Kennard is a three-point sniper off their bench, while Xavier Tillman will see more minutes as their starting center Steven Adams will be out.

Adams is a key player in the middle for the Grizzlies, and replacing his production won’t be easy. Look for Memphis to give Tillman more minutes and have Jackson Jr play center in certain lineups.

The Lakers need to take advantage of the absence of Adams in the series. They can do this by attacking the paint at will. Jackson Jr is one of the premier shot blockers in the league, but LA can counter this. Jackson Jr will likely matchup with Anthony Davis, which will make it tougher for him as the roamer. 

Davis commented on Jackson Jr as the roamer, stating, “We have some things for it. I'm not going to say it and have it get back to Memphis and things like that. But we have ways to kinda combat what he likes to do. ... We talked about it. And we'll be ready for it.”

LeBron James and Davis are great at getting into the paint and finishing. If the Grizzlies collapse the paint, the Lakers need shooters like Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Troy Brown Jr, and Rui Hachimura to knock down shots. The production of these players is vital to this team's success in the series.

It all starts with Davis. If he wins his matchup against Jackson Jr, it will go a long way in the series. Another way Davis could give LA a big advantage is by getting Jackson Jr in foul trouble. 

If Davis can get that done, the Grizzlies would be even more hindered with their big rotation. 

Containing Morant is the biggest challenge that the Lakers will face in the series. Jarred Vanderbilt and Dennis Schroder are their two best options to throw at Morant. However, it will still be difficult to contain him as he is an electric player. 

Darvin Ham may opt to blitz Morant and double-team to force the other Memphis players to make shots.

Game 1 will be Sunday at noon Pacific time. Look for the Lakers to come out hungry and aggressive as they try to steal Game 1 on the road.

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