The Los Angeles Lakers are set to take on the Memphis Grizzlies tonight in the third game of the Lakers’ current five-game homestand. Los Angeles is coming off a crucial win over the Warriors, behind a monster performance from Anthony Davis. That win moved the Lakers to 31-34 and has them tied for the final play-in spot. Their opponents, their opponents are coming off a tough loss to the Clippers in which they were short-handed without Ja Morant Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, or Brandon Clarke. Morant will be out tonight due to a team suspension for a incident which occurred over the weekend.
LeBron James remains out for the Lakers with his foot injury, and Mo Bamba is also out with an ankle sprain suffered against Golden State on Sunday. D’Angelo Russell has been upgraded to questionable after battling an ankle sprain suffered in the Lakers’ first game out of the All-Star break. His return would give the Lakers a huge boost in the playmaking and scoring departments. For the Grizzlies, Brandon Clarke is out with an Achilles tear, which will see him out for the rest of the season. Dillon Brooks is set to return from a one-game suspension due his exceeding 16 technical fouls. Steven Adams remains out with a knee injury, and Jake LaRavia is questionable.
Win the 3 Battle
Memphis aren’t a great shooting team (nor are the Lakers), and with both teams focused on the paint the battle could very well be decided by who can gain the advantage from three. Malik Beasley spoke on his two-man game with Anthony Davis, mainly his optimism that this can lead to more easy buckets for Davis. That should be reciprocated for Beasley. He’s the lethal sniper that the Lakers were craving prior to the trade deadline, and although they have done a decent job at getting him good quality looks, he should become a more focal part of the offense.
Troy Brown Jr.
A key reason Los Angeles have been able to stay afloat since LeBron James went down with a foot injury is the recent ascension on the offensive end of Troy Brown Jr. Since December 27th he is shooting 41.4% from beyond on the arc and has become a threat from three alongside Malik Beasley. They have helped Anthony Davis massively by providing multiple threats to pass out to when defenses double-team him. If he can keep up his consistent shooting from three it would be a massive boost to the Lakers’ playoff chances.
More Davis / Vanderbilt
After the trade deadline, when the Lakers completed a deal to acquire Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and D’Angelo Russell, many dreamt about the defensive potential of the Davis-Vanderbilt duo. They haven’t been disappointed. It is clear to see the acquisition of Vanderbilt has given the Lakers a new lease on life defensively. When he is on the court with Davis the Lakers have a truly elite defense. There are some concerns with the fit on the offensive end, but due to Vanderbilt’s energy, effort and willingness to work hard off the ball this hasn’t proven to be an issue as of yet. If the Lakers can keep the duo of Davis and Vanderbilt on the court more often they will be very hard to score on, and find themselves in good positions to win games on most nights.
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