The Los Angeles Lakers were able to sneak by the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime of their first round matchup in the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament. In doing so, they secured the No. 7 seed and advanced to the 2023 NBA Playoffs and a first round series with the Memphis Grizzlies. NBA Pundits are torn on who has the upper hand in this series, as it will be a must-watch affair between veteran stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis vs. young phenoms Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The Lakers arrive in this series after an up and down year that ended with them playing their best basketball of the season. Game 1 is certainly going to be an entertaining contest from tip to finish.
The Lakers finished the regular season with a record of 43-39 after starting the year an abysmal 2-10. A complete remake of the roster by GM Rob Pelinka at the trade deadline propelled the Lakers in a winning direction, as they won 18 of the last 27 regular season games. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies played strong basketball all season long. They faced a few obstacles stemming from off-the-court issues for star Morant, and eventually he was forced to serve an eight-game suspension enforced by the NBA. However, he has been locked in ever since returning, and he helped lead the Grizzlies down the stretch to a No. 2 seed. Both of these teams have plenty of star power, and it should make for a very intriguing series. In terms of Game 1, here are three bold predictions for the Lakers to start the series against the Grizzlies.
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Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis leads all scorers in Game 1
On both of these teams, there are plenty of names to choose from in regards to who will be leading the score sheet. After Game 1, Anthony Davis is going to have the highest scoring output from either side. Despite going up against defensive player of the year candidate Jackson Jr, Davis is going to continue his play from a torrid stretch as the season came to a close.
In the last 20 games of the regular season, Davis averaged 26.2 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists per contest. This is also without mentioning over 2 blocks and a steal per game; Davis has rounded into elite form just in time for the 2023 NBA Playoffs. In Game 1, Davis will keep the momentum going and be the high scorer from either the Grizzlies or the Lakers.
In general, the Lakers are going to need Davis to be the elite scorer he has shown he can be if they want to win this series. They will certainly need buckets from James, and guys like D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, but Davis will need to be the focal point of the offense. In Game 1, this will be the case for the Lakers, as Davis will have a game-high point total.
Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant doesn’t hit 20 points
The primary focus for the Los Angeles Lakers defensively will be limiting Ja Morant. It will be impossible to stop Morant completely, as he has the ball in his hands for a majority of the game and can make plays that are simply not possible to guard. He will find some success in Game 1, however the Lakers are going to do a good job on him overall. When the final buzzer sounds, Ja Morant will have failed to reach 2o points.
The Lakers team defense has been some of the best in the NBA in the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, the Lakers had the best defensive rating in the NBA and held opposing teams to the second-lowest field goal percentage. They have been active and intense on that side of the ball, and that play will continue in this series. In Game 1, their activity will especially effect Morant.
There is no doubt that Morant will get his fair share of buckets in Game 1 and throughout this series. However, the Lakers will stifle him in the first contest, holding him beneath 20 points and suffocating him for 48 minutes.
Lakers take Game 1 over Grizzlies
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to win Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Although the Lakers are a trendy pick in the West, many believe the Grizzlies youth and overall tenacity will lead them to a Game 1 victory over the Lakers. Nonetheless, the Lakers are going to play calm and collected basketball to lead them to a Game 1 victory.
After winning Game 1, the momentum of the series will be firmly on the Lakers side. Going back to Los Angeles with the series at least tied will be huge for the Lakers chances of advancing in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Lakers fans will be thrilled to see them take Game 1 and begin the 2023 NBA Playoffs on the right foot.