How ironic can the start of this series be for the Memphis Grizzlies? In Game 1, when Ja Morant suited up, they lost by 16 points to the Los Angeles Lakers, but they bounced back in a fantastic Game 2 performance with Morant watching from the sidelines, as they toppled the Lakers by 10, 103-93.
There has been a plethora of off-court news bits, ranging from the Dillon Brooks-LeBron James trash talk, Desmond Bane calling out Rui Hachimura, and D'Angelo Russell stating he is a Lakers' player and not their point guard.
The off-court shenanigans and discussions will be highlighted on the sports debate shows, but the on-court performances of the players on both teams are a better subject of conversation.
Xavier Tillman was a revelation in Game 2, as he tallied 22 points and 13 boards on 77% shooting from the field. It was a balanced scoring approach for Memphis in Game 2, but they still have lost home-court advantage in this series.
Game 3 will be a huge one for the Grizzlies, and these are a couple of predictions for their squad.
Luke Kennard explodes for over 20 points.
Dillon Brooks is seventh in the NBA in personal fouls committed per game at 3.31. He had five personals in Game 2, guarding LeBron James for most of the contest, so it opened up more minutes for sharpshooter Luke Kennard.
An underrated Grizzlies trade deadline acquisition that receives crucial playoff minutes will explode in Game 3 for at least 20 points with a minimum of five made three-pointers.
Forcing head coach Taylor Jenkins to utilize Kennard instead of Brooks will be a defensive challenge, so Desmond Bane or David Roddy will be tasked to defend James in this situation.
Even if Ja Morant is not back for Game 3, the playmaking prowess of Tyus Jones and Bane will be a terrific way to unlock the outside shooting capabilities of Kennard.
Dillon Brooks gets ejected in Game 3
As one of the most prominent front runners in the NBA, Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks talked a ton of smack in Game 2 because he knew they were ahead for most of the game.
Talking trash on the court is done by many NBA individuals but continuing it in the postgame interviews by calling LeBron James old and implying that it is not a challenge for him to defend LeBron is too much.
James will come out like a house on fire in Game 3 and possibly score over 15 points in the first period. He is not responding to Brooks' words on social media or his interviews, but James will allow his game to do the talking.
A brilliant prediction is for Brooks to get thrown out in Game 3 by committing an unnecessary hard foul or excessive technical foul in this critical game at Crypto.com Arena.
Ja Morant returns and propels Memphis to close Game 3 victory
By having Luke Kennard contribute immensely off the bench and Dillon Brooks off the floor, these two circumstances will be a massive positive for the Grizzlies.
Grizzlies' die-hard fans will likely feel disappointed with Brooks gone for most of the game, but they will realize that the offensive flow will be better.
It will be more of a high-scoring affair, similar to Game 1, but this time the Grizzlies will prevail in Los Angeles. Ja Morant will return from his injury, but his numbers will be limited- and he will also play limited minutes.
Tyus Jones will likely play more minutes, as Morant will be more of an inspirational asset who propels his teammates to a vital Game 3 win.