Lakers face Grizzlies in second game of In-Season Tournament

The Lakers eliminated the Grizzlies in 6 games from last spring's postseason.

LOS ANGELES — After a three-game losing skid, the Lakers of L.A. have recovered to win two straight, which includes a win over the Phoenix Suns in their first game of the In-Season Tournament (capitalized for importance) and a W over the rebuilding post-Dame Time Portland Trail Blazers. They hope to continue the momentum at home as they face the Memphis Grizzlies. And, yes, this will be the Lakers’ second game of the In-Season Tournament as Memphis is part of their group.

The last time the Lakers saw the Grizzlies was when they defeated them in the first round of the playoffs last April. This time around, this Memphis team looks pretty different. No Ja Morant due to… extracurricular activities. Not only that but Steven Adams has been deemed out for the season after another knee surgery. Tyus Jones got traded to greener pastures in Washington D.C. (what are you laughing at?) while Dillon Brooks was able to procure a lot of money in his signing with Houston. Not to mention that Brandon Clarke is still not back from tearing his ACL last March.

Part of the Tyus Jones trade involved bringing Marcus Smart from Boston. Smart provides stability, toughness, grit, and seamlessly fit in their defense. Derrick Rose was also brought in but he won’t be playing as he continues to have knee issues.

Yes, the Grizzlies were very good without Ja Morant last season. But they’re without more than Ja Morant now and with only 2/5 of the starting line-up available from last year, it’s been a rough go for Memphis.

Even though Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson, Jr. have stepped up offensively, they haven’t been enough to fill in the gaps all the injured, suspended, and departed players left. Their offense is second to last in the league. That’s part of the reason why they’re 2-8. They would be 1-9 but the James Harden hex has continued with the Clippers.

Still, a desperate team will have desperate measures. Maybe the win over the Clippers will give them some confidence. With the many three-pointers they shoot, this could very well overwhelm a team one day, especially if they start going in with more frequency. They’re also in the middle of the road in defense so they haven’t completely lost that aspect.

The Lakers have looked better the last couple of days, though. Cam Reddish has especially wrecked shop in the last two games he started (both wins!). He’s averaged 17.5 points and three steals in those two games. He’s also shot .600 from the field. Reddish was being called out by fans to be replaced by Max Christie and it looked like he was close to that after missing the game-winner against Miami. Now it’s looking like he’s having a rebirth of some sort.

Anthony Davis was the lone star against Portland as LeBron James sat out. He went for 30-13-6 to go along with three blocks. Davis continues to get some pushback about being the franchise player for the Lakers but if he stays healthy, well, we’ve seen what he can do. He just affects so much on the defensive end even if he’s not scoring a lot. He is probable for Tuesday’s game against Memphis.

With Reddish as a starter, Austin Reaves moved to the second unit and it has worked well thus far. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists while shooting .522 from the field. He’s still getting the usual minutes but he is coming off the bench for the time being. It’s working!

LeBron James is questionable but either way, the Lakers should be fine against a struggling Grizzlies team. Even if they’re not shooting a good percentage, Memphis will put up a lot of threes so the Lakers have to close out or take them out of shooting those bombs. Also remember that the Lakers are playing the first game of a back-to-back so it’ll be ideal for the Lakers to put this away early.

Let’s see if the Lakers can win three in a row. And also on the line is a 2-0 record in the In-Season Tournament.