3 bold Grizzlies predictions for Game 1 vs. Lakers

The Memphis Grizzlies have had to weather adversity to end the year, particularly with Ja Morant’s off-court troubles, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to become a distraction in their series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are coming off a huge play-in tournament victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, so they will be riding high on momentum. Ahead of Game 1 of what should be a competitive series, we’ll be making bold predictions for how the Grizzlies would perform in Game 1.

The Lakers won the season series over the Grizzlies, but it’s difficult to put too much stock on regular season results given how different the teams will be when they square off on April 16 at 3 PM E.T. The Lakers still had Russell Westbrook during their first matchup, while they didn’t have the services of LeBron James in their final two matchups. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies didn’t have Ja Morant during their most recent clash.

But in the playoffs, most of the teams’ heavy-hitters will be available. The Grizzlies, of course, will be missing the services of Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, two frontcourt players who could have helped in slowing down Anthony Davis. But still, the Grizzlies should have plenty of talent in their disposal to dispatch of the new-look Lakers that have gone 18-9 since trading Westbrook away.

Even then, anything can happen in the first game of a series. The past four NBA champions have all lost at least one Game 1s, so it will not be the end of the world should that happen to the Grizzlies.

But of course, the Grizzlies will prefer to get off to a strong start to set the tone for what should be a highly-physical series.

Here are three bold predictions for how the Grizzlies would perform in Game 1 of their 2023 NBA playoff series against the Lakers.

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3. Dillon Brooks scores 20+ points on over 50% shooting from the field

Now that’s what I call a bold prediction. Out of the 73 games he suited up in, Dillon Brooks scored over 20 points just 12 times, and in four of those games, he shot the ball worse than 50 percent from the field. There’s a reason why Brooks is one of the worst volume shooters in the NBA. He posted the second-worst true shooting percentage among qualified players, thanks to his infuriating shot selection.

Brooks shot over 50 percent from the field on just 19 occasions this past season; to put things in added perspective, Russell Westbrook did so on 30 occasions.

In fact, in three games against the Lakers, Dillon Brooks made just 11 of his 45 shot attempts, which was good for a horrid shooting percentage of 24.4 percent. So if there’s anyone who’s likely to shoot the ball poorly in Game 1 for the Grizzlies, it’s Brooks.

But Brooks has shot the ball well in Game 1s before. In 2021 against the Utah Jazz, the fiery Grizzlies wing scored 31 points on 13-26 shooting from the field, while in 2022 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he scored 24 points on 7-14 shooting.

The Lakers may also choose to stash their worst defender (or at least stash LeBron James on him so he could do his damage on help defense) on Brooks, so the 27-year old forward may have plenty of opportunities to provide an additional scoring punch for the Grizzlies.

2. Jaren Jackson Jr. outduels Anthony Davis

Jaren Jackson Jr. is the frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year award, and for good reason. Not only is he such an intimidating presence at the rim, his mobility on the perimeter makes him such a tough matchup to score on for both big men and perimeter stars alike.

Putting Jackson on Anthony Davis is an easy choice, although it may leave the Grizzlies big man vulnerable to foul trouble. Davis has also been a tough cover for Jackson in the past, as Davis averaged 29 points, 20.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks in two games against the Grizzlies this past season.

But in Game 1, expect Jaren Jackson Jr. to justify the DPOY hype surrounding him as he outperforms AD.

1. Desmond Bane leads the team in scoring en route to a dominant Game 1 win

The Lakers may not have a point-of-attack defender equipped to handle Ja Morant. Jarred Vanderbilt is a quality defensive player, but Morant will be too quick for the versatile big man. Austin Reaves tries on defense, but Morant laps him in terms of speed and craftiness. D’Angelo Russell can use his 6’5 frame to bother Morant, but he hasn’t really been an impactful defender for his career.

Dennis Schroder might be the Lakers’ best bet. Even then, the pressure Morant will put on the rim should open up scoring opportunities for the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. Bane, in particular, could be in for a huge series, and in Game 1, he will be eager to bounce back from his terrible 3-14 performance in his most recent outing against the Lakers, leading the way for a dominant Game 1 victory for the Grizzlies.

The post 3 bold Grizzlies predictions for Game 1 vs. Lakers appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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