The Memphis Grizzlies will meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs as the 2-7 pairing in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies were near the top of the West standings all season, while the Lakers outlasted the Timberwolves in the first play-in game to secure the No. 7 seed.
The Grizzlies picked up where they left off last season, relying on Ja Morant and a host of competent role players to propel this team to the top of the standings. Morant had to take a persona leave of absence and that move felt like it could derail Memphis’ season, but the Grizzlies have shown they can win without their star guard. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane continue to be high-level starters, and Tyus Jones is a solid backup guard. Memphis is missing some interior depth with Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams out, but Morant coming back in the fold is enough for this team to believe it can challenge for a title.
The Lakers made big moves at the trade deadline to finally solidify the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James had to sit out late in the season with a nagging foot injury but did come back just in time for the team to enter the play-in tournament hot. The Lakers struggled defensively but managed to pull off the overtime win to gain some rest ahead of this matchup. With James and Davis on the floor, the Lakers will be a tough out in any series. However, they’ll need better showings from D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura to make real noise as a title contender.