The resurgent Lakers, led by LeBron James, will face off against a young and talented Memphis Grizzlies team in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and it’s a match-up that NBA fans won’t want to miss.
The Grizzlies’ young but experienced squad is not intimidated by LeBron James and the 2020 NBA champions.
Memphis guard Dillon Brooks even said he wouldn’t mind facing LeBron in a seven-game series and knocking him out right away.
Brooks’ comments come as no surprise to anyone who has followed this budding rivalry between the two teams.
This isn’t the first time these teams have met this season, and the rivalry between them is beginning to heat up.
A January 2022 game between Memphis and the Lakers saw a minor altercation between Memphis guard Desmond Bane and James that quickly went viral.
Memphis won that game, but L.A. would win two of the next three in the series, including a heated game in January that was marred by a situation involving Shannon Sharpe, Brooks, Ja Morant and his father.
The regular-season results show that the two teams are evenly matched, with the Lakers winning two of the three games played.
However, this matchup is expected to be a close one, with several factors that could make the difference.
Brooks will likely be guarding James and looking to shut him down as much as possible.
The Lakers improved their depth ahead of the trade deadline, but they’ll be tested against the Grizzlies’ second unit, which is led by Tyus Jones and Luke Kennard.
The Grizzlies are stretched thin in the frontcourt, which will force Santi Aldama to play more minutes.
Anthony Davis will also be a key player to watch in this series.
With the Grizzlies likely to focus much of their defensive attention on James, Davis will need to take on the bulk of the offensive workload.
Davis has been dominant against the Grizzlies in the past, averaging 22.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game in 35 career games against them. In their last meeting in March, he scored 30 points and grabbed a season-high 22 rebounds.
It will be up to Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr. to limit Davis’ effectiveness in the paint.
But the Grizzlies will also lean on Jaren Jackson Jr. who will play a key role in rebounding and defense, and his aggressive offensive play will open up the floor for Ja Morant and other shooters.
Memphis is strong in transition, and the Lakers will need to find a way to slow them down.
The Lakers allowed 23.4 transition points per game, the fourth-most in the regular season, and that could be a problem against the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies ranked second with 25.8 transition points per game. Overall, Memphis took a step backward offensively this season, but it remained potent on the break.
The Lakers have a chance, thanks to their talent and experience, but the Grizzlies are a young and talented team hungry for a win.
They won’t be intimidated by the Lakers.
Memphis has the confidence and talent to knock off the Lakers in the first round, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do just that.