3. The Lakers have simply been the better basketball team over the last two months
The Memphis Grizzlies are the second seed in the West and have the better overall record than the Lakers. There was a pretty sizeable gap as well as Memphis was eight games better than the Lakers overall for the regular season.
Nine times out of ten that simply shows what everyone already knows: the second-seeded team is better than the seventh-seeded team. However, this is not the standard seven-two matchup as the Lakers are not the standard seventh seed.
This is a Lakers team that completely reinvented itself at the trade deadline and has been one of the better teams in the league since then. Not only was Rob Pelinka able to solve the Russell Westbrook problem but he actually created a roster that complements his star players and plays really well together.
Los Angeles is 18-8 since the trade deadline and a lot of those games were without LeBron James in the lineup. Los Angeles is 9-2 since the deadline in games that LeBron James played. Memphis, meanwhile, is 18-10 since the trade deadline.
There is not much of a difference there and granted, Memphis was playing without Ja Morant for a decent number of those games. With Morant, the Grizzlies are 11-5 since the deadline and 7-5 without him.
This is not to say that the Grizzlies are a bad team. Instead, the fact of the situation is that the Lakers have the talent of a 50-win team and with LeBron James in the lineup, have played to an incredible winning percentage since the deadline.