Heading into the Western Conference first-round playoff series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angles Lakers, the Grizzlies were the prohibitive favorites to come out on top and advance. After all, the Grizzlies finished the regular season with the second-best record in the conference and the best home record in the NBA at 35-6. The Lakers, meanwhile, were a play-in team who had a very up-and-down season.
But the Lakers proved all of their doubters wrong, as they eliminated the Grizzlies in six games and became just the second play-in team in league history to go on to win a playoff series, joining the 2023 Heat who eliminated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in round one.
A large majority of Grizzlies players up and down the roster underperformed during their series against the Lakers, but two players stood out as being particularly deserving of blame for Memphis’ embarrassing series loss. With all of this in mind, let’s look at two Grizzlies players who laid eggs against the Lakers:
2 Grizzlies most to blame for embarrassing playoff series loss to Lakers
No Grizzlies player embarrassed themselves in this series more than Dillon Brooks did. Heading into it, Brooks did a lot of talking, as he is known to do at this point. But Brooks didn’t back up his talk with his play at all.
On the offensive end of the floor, Brooks shot the Grizzlies in the foot (pun intended) on multiple occasions with his putrid shooting efficiency. Brooks shot just 24-for-77 from the field for the entire series, which equates to a dreadful 31.2% clip. He failed to shoot better than 5-for-14 in any of the six games.
And defensively, Brooks wasn’t much better. Brooks is an elite perimeter defender who embraces the challenge of guarding the best players in the world, but he wasn’t able to keep LeBron James from scoring the ball efficiently. James shot 50% or better from the field in four of the six games and had just one stinker in the whole series scoring-wise when he shot 5-for-17 in Game 5.
To be clear, Morant didn’t necessarily have a bad series. At least not nearly as bad as Brooks did. But as the star of the Grizzlies, he was far too inconsistent on the offensive end of the floor.
In Games 3 and 5, Morant was fantastic. He scored 45 points in Game 3 and 31 in Game 5 and went 50% from the field in both games. In the other three games Morant played in, though, he was mediocre at best. Morant scored just 47 points in Games 1, 4, and 6 combined and capped off his season by laying an egg in Game 6.
The former Murray State star certainly had his moments of brilliance in this series where he looked unstoppable, but they were too few and far between for the Grizzlies to beat a Lakers squad with championship mettle.
The Grizzlies have an interesting offseason ahead of them. Will they re-sign Dillon Brooks after his bad series against the Lakers? Will they be active in the trade market to try to add another star alongside Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Desmond Bane? Ultimately, only time will tell. But with a talented young roster and a bonafide superstar in Morant, the future is still extremely bright for the Memphis Grizzlies, even though their season ended in disappointing fashion on Friday.