The Lakers will face off against an angry Memphis Grizzlies team, coming off a gut-wrenching loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, by the slim margin of one point. Memphis has established itself as an old school, nitty gritty organization that prides itself on elite defense over flashy offense. Since moving the franchise from Vancouver to Tennessee, the Grizzlies have developed into a Western Conference juggernaut that has wreaked havoc on their foes, including the Lakers. Let’s see if the hot Lakers’ offense can carry over when they seek back-to-back victories versus against the Grizzlies top ranked defense.
Frontcourt: A former second-round draft choice of the Lakers, Marc Gasol anchors the paint for the Memphis Grizzlies. Standing at 7-feet tall, Gasol poses a monster threat to the undersized Lakers frontline through his dreamlike passing skills, craftiness on offense and his elite defensive prowess. The Spaniard has gotten off to a sizzling start this year, averaging a career high 19.1 points with 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He will certainly be a handful for Jordan Hill.
World-renowned as the Blake Griffin killer, the 33-year old Zach Randolph is still doing what he does best, serving as the NBA bully. Ze-Bo is the perfect complement to finesse of Gasol as he has made his living crashing the boards and occasionally throwing an ill-advised elbow or two. Though he prefers to operate within the painted area, don’t be shocked if Randolph drifts out and nails the 15-footer because he is surely capable of doing so.
On the wing, defensive-stopper Tony Allen receives the starting nod. Never an offensive threat, Allen is highly regarded as one of the few handful lockdown defenders remaining in today’s game due to his lightning quick hands and perpetual motor. Allen’s defense is basically the equivalent to that of Ron Artest’s in his prime, minus the brief episodes of sheer terror.
Backcourt: A bit of a nomad throughout his NBA career, shooting guard Courtney Lee has finally appeared to find a home in Memphis. Lee is not one to light up the box score, but he does provide instant offense when necessary primarily with his upgraded outside shot. Kobe Bryant will have his work cut out for him as Lee is shooting an ungodly 66.7 percent from beyond the arc in five games this season.
Perhaps the most underrated point guard in the Association, Mike Conley runs the show for the Grizzlies. His quiet, modest persona is simply a mask intended for us to overlook the killer inside. Conley’s numbers will not sweep you off your feet, but his ability to attack the basket, shoot off the dribble and be a nuisance on defense puts him right up there with the elite point guards in the Western Conference.
Keys to Victory:
Ed Davis: The fact that this man has yet to start a game this season is an absolute travesty. Davis has been the sole bright spot in the poignant defense played by the Lakers. Yes, Jordan Hill is a tenacious rebounder, but he has yet to solidify himself as a defensive stopper like his fellow big-man. If Byron Scott wants the Lakers to match-up with the Grizzlies imposing frontcourt, starting Davis alongside Hill is his best option.
Eliminating Courtney Lee: Since the Grizzlies struggle with floor spacing it is logical for the Lakers to try to eliminate their best floor spacer – Courtney Lee. If Bryant can successfully put the clamps on Courtney Lee’s shooting, the Grizzlies’ offense will be completely one dimensional, giving the offensive-minded Lakers a realistic opportunity to steal this game.
Kobe Bryant’s Efficiency: Clearly Kobe headed into the 2014-15 season with the mindset of firing up as many shots as humanly possible. It’s gotten to the point where you are almost surprised when he dishes the ball off to a teammate. That’s perfectly fine as long as he can sustain an acceptable level of efficiency. As entertaining as it is to witness Bryant shoot the ball 25+ times, converting a mere 39.4 percent is just flat out not going to win games. At that high volume, about 45 percent would be the ideal number to target.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 10-point underdogs against the Grizzlies according to Sportsbook.ag.
Memphis Grizzlies (6-1) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (1-5)
5:00 PM PST, November 11, 2014
FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: TWC SN / TWC D
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Grizzlies Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Tony Allen
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: PG: Beno Udrih SF: Vince Carter C: Kosta Koufos
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Jordan Hill
Lakers Ed Davis On Playing His Old Team