LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers have to like the schedule for their series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The NBA released the opening-round schedules on Wednesday morning (tip-off times for late-series games are still TBD). The first thing that jumped out about the Lakers-Grizzlies slate is the amount of rest Darvin Ham’s team will enjoy early on.
Here’s the schedule for the tantalizing No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup (times are Eastern):
- Game 1: Sun. Apr. 16 at FedExForum (3 p.m./ABC)
- Game 2: Wed. Apr. 19 at FedExForum (7:30 p.m./TNT)
- Game 3: Sat. Apr. 22 at Crypto.com Arena (10 p.m/ESPN)
- Game 4: Mon. Apr. 24 at Crpyto.com Arena (TBD)
- Game 5 (if necessary): Wed. April 26 at FedEx Forum (TBD)
- Game 6 (if necessary): Fri. April 28 at Crypto.com Arena (TBD)
- Game 7 (if necessary): Sun. April 30 at FedExForum (TBD)
As you’ll notice, the Lakers and Grizzlies will get two days off after Game 1 — despite no travel — and another two days off between Games 2 and 3. The break in between Games 1 and 2 should give the Lakers time to adjust to the central time zone ahead of the 4:30 p.m. PT tip-off on Wednesday.
The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers, for example, will not be afforded the same luxury.
One thing I'm really not understanding is why the NBA scheduled Clippers/Suns to play the afternoon Game 4, 38 hours after their Game 3 when Lakers/Grizzlies play later that night after having 2 days off. https://t.co/QRJCniTcYL
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 12, 2023
Of course, the Grizzlies will enjoy the same breaks and will enter the series even fresher than the Lakers, having wrapped their regular season on Apr. 9.
However, Los Angeles is more in need of rest considering the mental and physical toll of grinding through essentially must-win games throughout the final month of the season.
“I’m looking forward to possibly having a day off tomorrow,” LeBron said following Friday’s win over the Phoenix Suns, which was the team’s third game in four days with travel mixed in.
“Like I need tomorrow off,” Davis said when asked how his body felt post-Suns game.
“I know if I’m feeling tired,” Ham said that same night. “I can only imagine how (the players) feel. … Rest is at the top of the list of things we need to get done.”
LeBron played 45 minutes and AD played 43 in the Lakers’ overtime Play-In win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Davis said the opportunity to get multiple days off instead of playing another Play-In game on Friday motivated the Lakers to power through the Wolves battle after falling behind by 15 points in the second half.
“Even when we were down…we just kept saying, ‘We’ve gotta get rest.'”
Anthony Davis on the importance of the Lakers getting 4 days of rest before the Grizzlies series pic.twitter.com/QvVq4OFs4N
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) April 12, 2023
After playing eight high-stakes games in 14 days, the Lakers will only have to play three basketball games over the next 10 days, and four over the next 13.
On the other hand, playoff basketball against a physical Grizzlies team will pose a grueling physical challenge to the beat-up Lakers. LeBron, Davis, and D’Angelo Russell are managing foot ailments that will require daily maintenance until the offseason.
Things will get more challenging for the latter part of the series, as the Lakers and Grizzlies will only have one day off in between Games 3 through 7, despite potentially multiple time zone changes.
Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (51-31) will enter the series as winners of 13 of their last 18 games, while the Lakers — including the Play-In — have won 10 of their last 12. Fortunately for NBA fans, both teams should be at their freshest for the first few games of what should be a deeply entertaining and competitive series.