The first round series in the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Memphis Grizzlies and the LA Lakers is turning into an absolute classic with a lot of drama, close games, personal shots being fired, heated word exchanges, injuries, ejections and loads of elbows thrown (especially in the groin area).
NBA Playoff Classics usually go to a Game 7, but in order for that to happen, the Grizz will have to steal one game in La-La land, and that’s where they are headed this Saturday. As Charles Barkley said it in his post-game analysis after Game 5 on Inside the NBA, “them young boys are coming”.
The Story Thus Far
NBA Playoff predictions are all about analyzing how the series has been shaping up and what has transpired thus far. This helps predict the outcome of an NBA game, so let’s dig into what happened in this first round matchup till this point.
The Lakers were able to take Game 1 of the series in Memphis thanks to a spirited team performance where a lot of role players stepped up big time and produced well over their season averages. It was mainly the Austin Reeves show who turned into “I’m HIM” mode and hit a bunch of big shots in the fourth quarter to help his team steal the home court advantage. Let’s not forget that Ja Morant got injured in that game, so things could have gone the other way had he stayed on the court.
In Game 2, it was the role players of Memphis that stepped up, Ty Jones and Xavier Tillman in particular had great numbers, while LA were sort of relaxing a bit after having taken the opener. That’s when Dillon Brooks had his famous “LeBron’s old” interview where he not only poked the bear, but basically poured honey on himself and the rest of his teammates.
I guess this interview ignited the entire Lakers team, and they jumped on Grizzlies early in Game 3 at home and took a 35 to 9 lead in the first quarter. It was all over at that point, and although Memphis outscored LA in the final three quarters, they could not make up for that terrible start even with Ja Morant scoring 42 points and 22 straight in the final period.
Nevertheless, one could see that the Grizz had something going in that Game 3, and they could actually win a road game with a similar effort next time. That’s exactly what was about to happen in Game 4 where the Grizzlies came back from a 15-points deficit to take the lead in the final seconds. However, King James took the game to Over Time by hitting a lay up at the buzzer and the Purple and Gold were able to snatch the win thanks to a monstrous 20-20 game by James (22 points, 20 rebounds).
Logically, after exerting that much energy in Game 5, LeBron had nothing left in his tank in Memphis. As he said it himself in the post game interview, he “played like shit”. The guy is 38-years old, been in the league for 20 years with deep Playoff runs for ten straight years, so it’s absolutely understandable that he would feel exhausted after big game that ended in Overtime. As expected, the Grizzlies dominated at home and won the game with double digits 116-99. So now the series is at 3:2 in favor of LA, who need just one win to go through. What happens next?
What To Expect For Game 6 in LA?
Game 6 between the Lakers and Grizzlies will be played this Saturday, and the bookies are viewing LA as favorites to win at odds of 1.50 on the Money Line. A bet on Memphis to win and take the series home for a decisive Game 7 can nearly triple your money at the odds of 2.80.
The Lakers need a great game from both LeBron and AD at the same time, and that has not happened thus far. Memphis are a dangerous young team and the more this series drags on, the better their position gets. Obviously, a potential Game 7 will be in Memphis so Game 6 at the Crypto Arena represents the best chance for the Purple and Gold to close this thing out. Expect a sell out crowd and a great atmosphere from the home fans. That should help the Lake show, but Ja Morant might have something to say about that.
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