You know the drill. Just like last week with the Spurs, the Lakers are still in Memphis in order to face the Grizzlies for the 2nd time in three days. The Lakers won the first matchup, a fairly sloppy game that saw things stay relatively tight until LeBron took over offensively and AD locked things down defensively in the 4th quarter.
The Grizzlies are still down Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr. The Lakers hope to have KCP back after he practiced yesterday. Alex Caruso is still out due to the league’s health and safety protocols (which is code for some sort of COVID related incident). Player availability aside, this game should look very similar to the last one where, if the Lakers play hard, their superior talent wins out in the end.
I get that there will be some X’s and O’s adjustments — particularly from the Grizzlies side. Maybe they will send more help to AD when he’s isolated vs. either Valanciunas or Clarke. Maybe they’ll adjust their P&R coverages against Schröder or exaggerate some of their pressure defensive concepts even more than last game. They can always try to trap LeBron or pack the paint more in the hopes the Lakers shooters miss.
Fact is, though, that any changes the Grizz make will only matter within the context of how hard the Lakers play and how seriously they take this game. After giving up a boatload of points in the 1st quarter and then not really playing hard in the 3rd quarter offensively, the Lakers basically won the 2nd and 4th quarters decisively in order to get the W. If they get that level of effort consistently this game, they’ll very likely win in a walk.
That means closing out better on shooters, attacking the defensive glass with more energy, and really pushing the pace in transition. It means attacking the paint more offensively and not just relying on jumpers to score points. Don’t get me wrong, the Lakers are good enough to win this game by only doing these things intermittently. We saw that on Sunday. I also get that, in a long season, pacing yourself by doing only what’s necessary rather than over extending is preferred and, in some ways, smart.
In the world of building habits, however, I’d prefer the reenforcement of good ones over the alternative — even if you can win that way. Don’t get me wrong, stacking wins is also important and getting those early in the year when you’re not playing at your best is great. But, in the world of process vs. results, I’m still a process person. So, you know, give a little bit more than Sunday and make this one a bit less frustrating and a bit more comfortable at the same time, if you can fellas.
Where you can watch: 5:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet and NBA TV.