Lakers, Grizzlies go to Los Angeles for important Game 3

Lakers got the split they needed on the road to steal the home court advantage.

While the Lakers did lose Game 2, they did steal Game 1. For all intents and purposes, the Lakers did what they needed to do against Memphis. Now they have the home court advantage as they play in Crypto Dot Com Arena on Saturday night.

I don’t buy that they have a total home court advantage. After all, they went 23-18 in home games for the season. However, they were much better after they got their final team (10-4 at home; 18-8 overall).

What’s even more important for the Lakers is to come out of the gates energized (which a home game can certainly provide). The final score of Game 2 doesn’t indicate it but the Grizzlies looked dominant pretty much the entire game; the Lakers cut the deficit to 6 points late but they never got any closer and never had a real chance to win the game. They were held to 93 points, the lowest output this entire season. Anthony Davis never got going (13 points in Game 2). D’Angelo Russell shot badly (5 points off 2 for 11). Austin Reaves looked very ordinary (12 points).

But they weren’t totally hapless. LeBron James (28 points, 12 boards) operated nicely in the post. Rui Hachimura (20 points) continued to provide points off the bench although he was held scoreless in the fourth. But Memphis was just awesome defensively and it felt like the Lakers were going against 10 guys on the court, instead of 5. No, this is not a “referees are helping Grizzlies” joke.

LeBron going on the post definitely helped but the Lakers didn’t hit jackpot every time. Maybe Davis can get his offense off LeBron’s passes out of the post (it was mostly Jarred Vanderbilt that was the recipient and that didn’t work out a lot of the time). And the Lakers were stuck in the mud on offense; maybe they should move the ball a lot more. Set a couple of screens for their guys. And of course, they have to do the simple fundamentals of boxing out guys like Jaren Jackson, Jr. (18 points, 9 rebounds) and Xavier Tillman (who had a career playoff game in Game 2 with 22 points and 13 boards).

The fact of the matter is that the Grizzlies will still be depleted in the frontcourt and that they’ll have to beat the Lakers with energy, hustle, and grit. Maybe the Lakers can counter with Wenyen Gabriel or/and Mo Bamba here. It is the playoffs and we’ll see a ton of adjustments from both teams.

Ja Morant is listed as questionable so if he’s back, we’ll see a more explosive offense from the Grizzlies. And we know he’s someone that can draw defenders so they’ll have to watch for his passing as well. They did a decent job holding Morant in Game 1 before he got hurt. And remember that Morant had a huge game in their second match-up in the regular season; Ja put in 28 of his 39 points in a huge third quarter.

We’ll see what kind of chess moves Darvin Ham and Taylor Jenkins will implement for Game 3. We’ll also find out if one of them thought they were actually playing checkers. Either way, it’ll be an intriguing contest and a pivotal game.

And apparently, LeBron is not here for the bull.