Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies NBA Preview & Pick
Monday, February 25 at 8:00 PM ET
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FS Southeast (Memphis) LINE: Lakers -5 O/U: 222.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Memphis Grizzlies, desperate for win as they’re still out of a playoff spot.
Pelicans crush Lakers
The Lakers appeared to turn a corner when they pulled off an epic comeback in their 111-106 home win against the Rockets, rallying from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to eventually win and get back to .500. LeBron James, who said he had activated “playoff mode” for the final third of the season, had 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
But then the Lakers took a step back to square one in Saturday’s 128-115 road loss to the Pelicans, who were without their star Anthony Davis. James finished with 27 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds but he couldn’t will his teammates to a victory and he had some interesting comments after the game.
“How many know what’s at stake if you’ve never been there?” James told reporters after the loss. “It’s kind of a fine line when you talk about that, because when you’ve never been there or know what it takes to actually shoot for something like that, sometimes you’re afraid to get uncomfortable.”
Complicated road ahead for Los Angeles
If the Lakers are going to make a playoff push, their defense has to play way better. The other problem they have is their schedule, as it doesn’t exactly favor them in the final 23 games. The Lakers have 11 contests on the road, including tonight’s clash in Memphis and a five-game road trip starting March 12 in Chicago.
Los Angeles is just 12-18 on the road this season and they will only have seven games against teams unlikely to make the playoffs, as they have to face the Golden State, Oklahoma City and Boston in this stretch, as well as two games against Milwaukee and MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The only apparent advantage the Lakers will have is their competition for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. As of this writing, the Lakers are three games behind the Clippers and two games behind the Kings and they still have some games against them.
The Clippers, who traded their star Tobias Harris to the 76ers at the deadline, will play the Lakers twice. The Kings, who are led by the dynamic backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, play the Lakers once. Los Angeles is 1-1 against the Clippers and 2-1 against Sacramento this season and the head-to-head tiebreakers are will be extremely important in determining who secures the last playoff spot.
The Los Angeles Lakers are:
4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss
4-1 ATS in their last five games against Western Conference opponents
The Memphis Grizzlies are:
7-19 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight up loss
6-17 ATS in their last 23 games following an ATS loss
7-20 ATS in their last 27 games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
3-15 ATS in their last 18 games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
The Lakers are in this spot partly due to James wanting to trade half the team for Anthony Davis and his 17-game absence due to injury. As the leader of this team, James has to make sure the Lakers are ready for the future and stop throwing his teammates under the bus.
It all starts against a Grizzlies that has lost four straight and five of their last six, including a 112-107 road setback against the Cavs last Saturday. This is a must-win game if the Lakers want to make the playoffs and I see James coming out fired up, so I like them to get off to a fast start.
NBA Pick: Lakers 1st half -2 (-115) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: Jazz Sports