Lakers Vs. Grizzlies Game 5 Preview: Looking To Close Out Series In Memphis
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After an exhausting, physical and intense contest, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves with a 3-1 series lead and look to finish the series off on the road in Game 5 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Without a doubt, all eyes will be on LeBron James and Anthony Davis to lead this team in what will be an extremely hostile environment.

Most important will be the play of Davis, who has traded off good offensive nights in Games 1 and 3 with lackluster showings in Games 2 and 4. The Lakers need the Davis that dominated Game 3 offensively, getting into the paint and refusing to be denied. To Davis’ credit, he has not slacked off in the other areas, averaging 12.3 rebounds, 4.8 blocks and 1.8 steals in the series so far. But the Lakers need a monster performance from the big man.

Likewise, James has been good but not great in this series. He is only averaging 24 points per game so far and that is due in large part to his awful 3-point shooting, knocking down just 5-of-27 attempts. But like Davis, LeBron continues to find other ways to impact the game and his 20 rebounds in Game 4 were massive. It will be up to the Lakers’ stars to set the tone and hope they get a couple big contributions from the role players.

Which of those role players will step up is the big question. Rui Hachimura will look to bounce back after his first bad offensive night in the series, while Austin Reaves has already proven that no situation is too big for him. One huge key could be D’Angelo Russell, however.

The Lakers’ starting point guard has struggled for the most part but came up huge in the fourth quarter with three consecutive 3-pointers right when it looked as if the Lakers were running out of gas. He is another player who isn’t afraid to take big shots, but the Lakers need more of those to fall against this Grizzlies team.

Defensively, the Lakers’ main focus might need to be slowing down Desmond Bane. The versatile Grizzlies guard has struggled all season against the Lakers but finally got going in Game 4 and that is when Memphis began to turn things around. He finished with 36 points, though he still struggled from deep as did the rest of the Grizzlies team, but getting him back in check severely limits the offensive options Memphis has.

Ja Morant remains the head of the snake, but the Lakers did a great job of being physical with him in Game 4, making it difficult for him to get in the paint where he operates best. Jarred Vanderbilt and Dennis Schroder have been excellent at hounding him all game long and even if they aren’t providing much offensively, their work on Morant is the far more important thing.

The Grizzlies will likely come out very motivated and intense so the Lakers will almost definitely have to weather an early storm. If they are able to do that and keep things within striking distance early, that is when it becomes very interesting.

What the Lakers can’t do is come out lax and give this game away as doing so puts all the pressure back on L.A. to win Game 6 back at home. Limiting the Grizzlies’ second-chance points and taking care of the ball will be crucial and if the Lakers can do that, they have a real chance at finishing this series off on the road.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-1) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (1-3)

4:30 p.m. PT, April 26, 2023
FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: LeBron James
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr., Malik Beasley

Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:

PG: Ja Morant
SG: Desmond Bane
SF: Dillon Brooks
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
C: Xavier Tillman

Key Reserves: Tyus Jones, Santi Aldama, John Konchar, Luke Kennard, David Roddy

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