The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to extend their series lead to two games on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite being the seventh seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers are actually in control of this series moving forward.
One huge x-factor that will completely change the projection of this series is Ja Morant’s injury status. Morant hurt his wrist in Game 1 of the series and it is unclear how much time he will miss and how effective he will be if he is able to suit up at some point in the series.
This obviously changes the dynamic of the matchup moving forward and is going to cause the Grizzlies to shuffle pieces around in his absence. Here is what Lakers fans should expect if Morant is not able to play.
Projected Grizzlies starting lineup without Ja Morant:
- Tyus Jones (22 starts for Memphis)
- Desmond Bane (58 starts for Memphis)
- Dillon Brooks (73 starts for Memphis)
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (63 starts for Memphis)
- Xavier Tillman (29 starts for Memphis)
Tyus Jones is one of the most talented backup point guards in the league but it goes without saying that he is no Ja Morant. While it is a luxury to have a talented point guard to come in, it hurts the overall depth of the team and is a massive blow to Memphis.
Keep in mind that the team is already without another impactful starter in Steven Adams. Not having Adams is massive in this series as the Grizzlies struggled with the Lakers’ size in Game 1. Xavier Tillman is not someone you want starting opposite of Anthony Davis in a playoff series.
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
- D’Angelo Russell (17 starts for LA)
- Austin Reaves (22 starts for LA)
- Jarred Vanderbilt (24 starts for LA)
- LeBron James (54 starts for LA)
- Anthony Davis (54 starts for LA)
This is the same starting five that the Lakers have been throwing out there for key games and thus far it has been working. That being said, Darvin Ham has done a great job at riding the hot hand in specific games depending on what is called for.
D’Angelo Russell struggled in the play-in game against the Timberwolves while Dennis Schroder was playing very well. Thus, Ham went more with Schroder in key moments in order to capitalize on the hot hand.
The same thing happened in Game 1 of this series. Rui Hachimura had the best game of his career with a team-high 29 points and Ham allowed him to keep cooking and kept Vanderbilt on the bench.
So while this is the starting lineup, it is not necessarily going to be the closing lineup. It all depends on who is the hot hand.