The Memphis Grizzlies make a quick trip out west to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the Grizzlies’ first game since their dramatic 134-133 overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers (2-1) are coming off a 120-101 home win against the Charlotte Hornets.
Progress. Ain’t it great?
The Memphis Grizzlies as a whole on Sunday against the Nets showed not only the type of fight and perseverance that will earn them respect and admiration of both fans and other teams alike, but also showed a commitment to the type of consistent improvement where stars are born and unforgettable moments are created.
Anyone who tuned into this game was treated to both the arrival of a potential new star in Ja Morant, and one of the most exciting finishes in recent Grizzlies history. Jae Crowder’s buzzer beater capped off an incredible night, one that no matter what future struggles this young Grizzlies team encounters, fans can look back on as a special moment in the next generation of Grizzlies basketball.
Was it perfect? No, and it will be up to Coach Taylor Jenkins and his staff to keep the young squad grounded and continue to improve upon the skills and cohesion of the team.
The Grizzlies allowed foul trouble to become an issue again in this game, giving up 37 free throw attempts and ultimately led to Jaren Jackson Jr. fouling out in overtime.
But this game was absolutely more positive than negative, as several improvements were made within the team — specifically the improvement in play of Dillon Brooks in, the emergence of Solomon Hill as an option off the bench, and the continued commitment to improved three point shooting (42% on 33 attempts).
Oh yeah, and Ja Morant played out of his mind against Uncle Drew of all people. No big deal right?
No, but seriously, with 30 points, 9 assists, and a block against one of the best point guards in the league in Kyrie Irving, Ja demanded the spotlight to announce his presence and show why he was picked number 2 overall. Ja took the national spotlight on Sunday, and for his encore Tuesday night, there will be no need for him to take the national spotlight.
The Grizzlies are going to Staples Center to play LeBron, AD, and the Lakers.
The spotlight doesn’t get much bigger than that.
The Lakers, as they are currently constructed, are a perfect representation of the evolving ideal that traditional positions in basketball are becoming a thing of the past. With a starting lineup that has no true point guard — LeBron James has taken on these playmaking responsibilities — averaging 10 APG (more than double any other Laker) to go along with his 23.3 PPG.
Joining LeBron in the starting lineup is star big man Anthony Davis, who came to LA this season through a summer blockbuster trade with New Orleans. AD is currently the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker (25PPG, 10RPG, 3.3BPG) and so far this season, has proven to be as good as advertised — and a perfect co-star to LeBron in LA.
Joining LeBron and AD in the starting lineup is Danny Green, 2 time NBA Champion and noted three point sharpshooter (52.6% from 3 this season), former Grizzly swingman Avery Bradley, and center JaVale McGee.
Some reserves of note are former Memphis Grizzlies Troy Daniels and Dwight Howard (technically). Troy Daniels has continued to be the same threat from distance as he was in his time with the Grizzlies, even earning the nickname “layup” from LeBron, who said that “every time he (Troy) shoots a three, it’s a layup.” Dwight Howard has carved out a nice role on this team as well after his buyout from the Grizzlies this past offseason, averaging 7PPG and 7.7RPG. Rounding out the rotation is former Warriors guard Quinn Cook, 13 year veteran Jared Dudley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso.
The Lakers so far this early into the season have shown a style of play that is deliberate in pace (100.1 possessions per game, 30th in the league) and shows a penchant for defense, leading the league in Blocks per Game (8.0) and is in the upper half of defensive efficiency (100.4, good for 12th in the league). This philosophy will clash with the next gen Grizzlies, who will look to pick up the pace significantly from what the Lakers are used to. But make no mistake about it, the Lakers will go as their superstar duo goes. The tandem of LeBron and AD is the first true star tag team the Grizzlies have faced this season, and how they attempt to contain them will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
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