The fifth match-up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies is happening on Wednesday night in Memphis, Tennessee.
We know where they are right now. The Lakers are one win away from returning to the Western semifinals since their championship year in 2020. The Grizzlies have their backs against the walls and have to win the first of three straight games in order to win the series. Otherwise, it’s bye bye bye.
Game 4 was a battle as they went to overtime. In this game, the stars came through for the Lakers as LeBron James made a clutch lay-up right before the buzzer and then from there, James and Anthony Davis took it home.
While Anthony Davis didn’t have a stellar offensive game, he’s brought it defensively the entire series. If they want to close it out, he’ll have to get it done on both ends. LeBron James was very up and down in Game 4 but his line of 22-20-7 was nothing short of spectacular.
D’Angelo Russell also didn’t have a very good night but the Lakers don’t win without his three consecutive three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Maybe Darvin Ham learned his lesson again about Rui Hachimura; he was out of rhythm in Game 4 due to the other bench players playing well and getting their run. Austin Reaves actually led the Lakers in scoring in Game 4 with 23 points and he’s provided such a steady hand for this team.
The Grizzlies will be very desperate as they try to avoid elimination. Desmond Bane had his best offensive game of the series last Monday with 36 points. The Grizz might ask him to do that again. Ja Morant will likely be even more reckless but Memphis needs him to be more efficient. Xavier Tillman played well in Game 4; he’ll need to keep it up.
The rest of Memphis has to step it up offensively if they want to keep playing this season. Jaren Jackson, Jr. continues to show why he’s Defensive Player of the Year but like Ja, he has to shoot better. Dillon Brooks has been mostly silent both on and off the court. And maybe the bench will get more run here. Tyus Jones didn’t do so hot in Los Angeles. Luke Kennard might need to play more so they can have that deadly perimeter threat.
We’ve seen both teams lock it up on long spurts. Which team will break it open? Which of them figures it out? Who’s going to be the unsung hero this time?
They’re in Memphis so being in front of their die-hard fans might make it easier for this young Grizzlies team. But all the momentum is on the Lakers’ side and I’m sure they want to get this done as soon as possible. A win by Memphis here can shift the momentum back to these bears. And it’s a dangerous proposition because if the Grizzlies win and then steal Game 6, it’s a Game 7 back in Memphis and that would be really rough for any road team.
The Lakers can finish this job on Wednesday night. But will they? We’ll find out.