Before the NBA playoff action gets underway on Saturday, we have the new play-in tournament. A pair of Eastern Conference games took place on Tuesday, and the Western Conference games are taking place on Wednesday.
This just feels like the Grizzlies’ spot to break out, even though we know they will be sizable road dogs on Friday if they win this one. The young Grizzlies have plenty of experience in this type of game, playing a nail-biter against the Trail Blazers in the bubble, and then battling down to the wire with the Warriors on Sunday (despite the final score getting run up late). Now they’re at home, and get a Spurs team that just seems less talented and less motivated than former seasons.
The Grizzlies showed a ton of heart in Golden State on Sunday, trailing by 17 entering the fourth quarter, and actually taking a lead with six minutes left. If Dillon Brooks didn’t foul out, Memphis might’ve had a real shot in the game. There’s too much young and hungry talent on this team not to show up in this spot. The Grizzlies won the season series 2-1, taking the last two games on the road. Memphis dominated the last meeting by 31 points.
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Nobody in the NBA is hotter than Stephen Curry right now, but the Lakers know that too. I don’t think the play-in tournament was on LeBron James’ mind when he thought about trying to defend his title, but here we are. We’ve seen a very limited showing of the Lakers healthy over the past couple of months, but the glimpses we’ve had looked good.
I’m really buying into LeBron and company being able to flip the switch, and I think they will in this game. There’s no reason to put themselves in the position of having to play with their backs against the wall on Friday, and this team could use the extra rest the remainder of the week. The seven-seed also feels like a much better path for the Lakers in the postseason, rather than having to go to Utah.
The Lakers won the season series 2-1, taking the last two games by a combined 57 points. If the Lakers can lock in on Steph defensively, there’s just nothing left the Warriors have that can beat the Lakers. The Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond combo is also a ton of size for a small Dubs lineup to deal with. LeBron won’t be messing around in this one.
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