First Round of Playoffs: Lakers vs. Grizzlies Keys to Victory
The first round of the NBA playoffs is set to be underway, and one of the most compelling matchups will be Lakers vs. Grizzlies. The Lakers and Grizzlies played some of the most highly competitive games during the regular season due to a unique combination of drama and elite-level scoring.
In a recent conference call, former NBA player and now NBA analyst for ESPN, JJ Redick, listed three major keys to determine who advances to the next round.
Jaren Jackson Jr. v. Anthony Davis
JJ Redick repeatedly mentioned how important it is to go into the playoffs with a level of rhythm. Leading into this matchup as both players finished the regular season strong.
Jaren Jackson has solidified himself as one of the best defensive players in the NBA during the 2022-23 campaign, averaging 3 blocks and 1 steal per game. Down the stretch, he has even gotten it going on the offensive side of the ball, scoring at least 31 in three of the last four contests.
Redick mentioned Jackson’s inability to avoid foul trouble at certain points of the season. He believes LeBron will look to get Anthony Davis in favorable spots early in the game to bait Jackson into early fouls.
Redick said, “He needs to play more than 28 minutes a game for them to have a chance.”
However, Jackson is averaging a career-low with 3.6 fouls per game.
While Lebron James missed 13 games with a foot injury, Anthony Davis regained his old form showing why he is one of the most talented all-around players in the NBA.
Davis won Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in March and April, averaging 26.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks, all while shooting 56.9% from the field.
Even though Lebron is back in the lineup, the Lakers will need Anthony Davis to play with the same urgency and aggressiveness if they hope to advance.
Scoring in Transition
Since the NBA trade deadline, the Lakers have had the best defensive rating in the NBA (108.9), all while allowing teams to shoot 50% from the field. The Grizzlies have been a top 3 defensive unit all year, posting a defensive rating of (110.7).
On the flip side, both teams have found lots of success scoring the ball in transition as the
Grizzlies rank 2nd with 25.8 points per game, while the Lakers rank 6th with 23.7 points per game.
As highlighted by JJ Redick, both teams struggle to score consistently in the half-court; therefore, expect both sides to push the ball, making it difficult for the defense to set up.
Ja Morant has had his off-the-court issues throughout the year, but when on the court, he’s played at an ELITE level averaging 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists.
In two contests vs. the Lakers, Ja has taken his game to another level, averaging 30.5 points, 9 assists, and 6.5 rebounds.
Redick mentioned Morant’s aggressive, downhill nature that allows him to be an effective scorer in transition, where he averages 6.1 points per (7th in NBA), and in the pick and roll, where he led the league in pick and roll points—at a point even averaging 14 per game.
Game 1: Lakers @ Grizzlies (April 16, 3:00pm EST) Watch on ABC
Game 2: Lakers @ Grizzlies (April 19th, 7:30pm EST) Watch on TNT
Game 3: Grizzlies @ Lakers (April 22nd, 10:00pm EST) Watch on ESPN
Game 4: Grizzlies @ Lakers (April 24th, Time TBD)
Game 5: Lakers @ Grizzlies (April 26, Time TBD)
Game 6: Grizzlies @ Lakers (April 28th, Time TBD)
Game 7: Lakers @ Grizzlies (April 30th, Time TBD)