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Lakers vs. Grizzlies Game 4 Preview: Maintaining momentum

The Lakers will look to secure momentum instead of letting the Grizzlies take it back to Memphis, targeting a 3-1 series lead in Monday’s Game 4.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the driver’s seat of their first-round playoff series, seizing a 2-1 series lead with their Saturday win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The victory was an emphatic one, as the Lakers led from buzzer to buzzer. On top of never allowing the Grizzlies to hold a lead in Game 3, the Lakers buried them almost immediately after the opening tip with a 35-9 advantage after the 1st quarter. The Grizzlies’ pitiful 1st quarter marked the lowest-scoring quarter for any NBA team during the 2022-23 season.

The Lakers’ negated the Grizzlies’ home-court advantage with a win in Game 1, with Game 3’s win being very important in maintaining that stalemate.

And although history has shown that a team that gets a Game 3 win in a tied series has great promise in winning the series overall, Monday night’s Game 4 may actually be even more pivotal for the home team.

Game 4 even more important?

After a joyous night for Lakers fans in what was the first full-capacity playoff game for them since 2013, they’ll get another night to chant “Let’s go, Lakers” from the opening tip in Game 4. After that, the series will quickly move back to Memphis for Wednesday’s Game 5. And although the Lakers can technically afford another loss with a best-of-three series coming after that, it would greatly behoove them to leave L.A. with a 3-1 series lead.

Momentum is everything in a playoff series. Most playoff matchups are back-and-forth all the way until a Game 6 or 7. However, sometimes a team can find enough momentum for a two-game or even three-game winning streak in the middle of a series.

The Grizzlies will be hoping to achieve one of those two-game winning streaks by stealing one in L.A. before coming home to their raucous Memphis crowd in what would be a great opportunity for them to quickly kick the Lakers out of that driver’s seat to take control of the wheel.

In addition to wanting to keep the hungry Grizzlies’ faithful starved for wins, it would greatly benefit the Lakers to take Game 4 seriously, as their recent rest advantage may disappear soon.

Heading into the postseason, the Lakers played 5 games in their final 7 days of the season. It’s been 7 days since this first-round series started, as the Lakers have actually had much less intensity across this week period when compared to that final week of the regular season when they were still fighting to even have a postseason.

After Wednesday’s Game 5, both teams will have played 3 games in 5 days. The Grizzlies are a much younger team, and although their superstar, Ja Morant, has a hand injury he will seemingly be nursing all series long, it’s the Lakers with a superstar nursing a lower-body injury in LeBron James who still may be feeling the effects of the tear in his foot suffered about a couple of months ago.

So not only will the Lakers want to take momentum into Memphis instead of giving it to the Grizzlies, but they will also look to maintain some ground between themselves and Father Time catching up to LeBron and their other players that have more career minutes on their legs than the young Grizzlies.

To do so, the Lakers will look to avoid resting on their laurels like they did to open the Game 2 loss they suffered. The opening intensity will hopefully replicate a similar defensive effort that stifled the Grizzlies, spearheaded by Anthony Davis who is averaging 6.7 stocks (steals and blocks combined) per game in this series. The Lakers’ offense also revolves around him at this point, as his Game 3 aggressiveness will hopefully continue until the end of this series after his dismal 13-point performance in Game 2.

If that hopefulness for this writer and Lakers fans is fulfilled in the results, then things will look very promising for the purple-and-gold with some wiggle room for a possible loss in Memphis in Game 5, knowing that a rowdy Game 6 in L.A. would await their opponent after that.

Notes and Updates

  • Nothing new with the Lakers’ injury report coming into Game 4. Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury), LeBron James (right foot soreness), and Dennis Schröder (right Achilles soreness) will be probable.
  • Brandon Clarke (achilles tear), Steven Adams (knee sprain), and Jake LaRavia (calf soreness) all are out for the Grizzlies.
  • The Lakers and Grizzlies will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on TNT and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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