Game 1 Recap: Lakers Struggle Against Grizzlies' Defense

Game 1 Recap: Lakers Struggle Against Grizzlies' Defense


Game 1 Recap Lakers Struggle Against Grizzlies Defense


Los Angeles Lakers emerged victorious over Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of Western Conference Quarterfinals with an emphatic win, thanks to team efforts led by each role player on their squad.

The Grizzlies have proven themselves strong defensively but not elite offensively due to relying solely on their guards to score. That gives the Lakers an opportunity to excel this series.

LeBron James & the Lakers’ Offense

Los Angeles Lakers' offense has been one of the league's least effective this season, according to Basketball Reference. Through six games they've scored 11.5 fewer points per 100 possessions than average -- this would mark their worst relative rating since at least 1973-74 when data first became available.

In fact, the Lakers are scoring 41.9 fewer points per game this year compared to last season, even worse than their overall offensive efficiency dipping to an all-time low.

However, the Lakers have done an exceptional job at defense despite their modest scoring numbers. They rank first in the NBA at defending without fouling and have amassed 17.9 personal fouls per game - an astounding accomplishment in its own right!

Memphis' defensive strategy has allowed them to keep games close by keeping James out of the paint and could prove pivotal in this series. Brooks held James to 8-21 shooting when they first met this season due to forcing LeBron to pass or shoot jumpers from left side of court, tiring him out.

The Grizzlies feature an extremely young roster, boasting many athletic players that can wear down teams over time. By running off screens and making quick plays they wear down opponents quickly while creating opportunities to run pick-and-roll or switch out defenders for easy baskets.

Thankfully, the Grizzlies remain relatively deep in the paint with Ja Morant and Russell Westbrook leading their paint play, but it will be interesting to watch how they fare against Lakers' size. Relying on smaller big men could prove challenging as they attempt to slow down James' offense.

The Lakers will face an uphill climb on offense against the Grizzlies, but have some key pieces that should help them. Whether that will be enough to win them back into the series is yet to be seen, but Rob Pelinka's roster changes this summer should give them hope of coming back into contention.

The Lakers’ Defense

The Lakers may not be among the league leaders at defending three-point lines, but they have certainly improved since the trade deadline. No team allowed fewer threes than LA during that period.

Concerns have arisen with Memphis Grizzlies three-point shooting, led by former Clipper Luke Kennard's efforts. Kennard is now averaging 5.8 three-point attempts per game for Memphis and ranks 7th overall.

That being said, it is worthy to note that Memphis allowed the fifth-lowest percentage of three-point attempts this season across all NBA teams, giving them a great chance of claiming this series victory.

Conversely, it should also be remembered that the Grizzlies' defense is far from flawless; they allow far too many open threes that are hard to defend.

Lakers opponents average 8.6 threes per game - sixth highest total in NBA this season - yet they remain effective defensively, effectively blocking weaker perimeter shooters from getting inside and scoring points.

As a result, this has helped the Lakers limit opponents' 3-point shooting percentages to 32.3 percent this season - tied for ninth best in the NBA and an enormous improvement from their prior mark of 20.0, which was lowest before trade deadline.

Hopes for this series between the Lakers and Grizzlies include progress being made at both ends of the floor - which would greatly assist their chances of rebounding more efficiently and remaining among Western Conference contenders for next month's playoffs.

On the other hand, there are other areas in which the Lakers must make strides forward. They need to become better at defending without fouling. While this takes experience and practice to perfect, this area offers great potential for advancement for the Lakers.

The Grizzlies’ Offense

Los Angeles Lakers opened up their playoff series against Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Sunday, with Memphis as heavy favorites to win it all.

The Lakers have struggled this season on defense, and Sunday was no different as Memphis Grizzlies successfully shut down Lakers offense. Memphis ranks 28th in half-court offense while only 12th in offensive efficiency - something they have attempted to address by adding more speed into their offense.

Mike Conley has proven his mettle by providing versatile scoring for them without over relying on one-dimensional plays. Ja Morant provides another useful addition while Conley excels as their point guard, giving them enough scoring without becoming overreliant on single plays.

Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol are key components to the Grizzlies' offense, providing off-dribble penetration and off the bounce scoring opportunities for their team.

This contributes to efficient ball movement that leads to off-ball cutting and allows the Grizzlies to quickly transition out of transition, with 11 steals per game on average and often scoring double-digit fast break points.

Jaren Jackson provides that consistent playmaker on the wing for Memphis who can score in open space and get to the rim, something they desperately needed in their lineup.

Although not a prolific three-point shooter, he can still score efficiently in isolation situations and ranks in the 86th percentile for NBA isolation scoring according to Basketball Reference.

As an effective finisher in the fourth quarter, he boasts impressive shooting numbers; 52.7% shooting from two-point range and 41.7 from three.7% from three.

He can control a game in transition, driving to the basket from outside in transition and open court. Unfortunately for him, Lakers struggled against this aspect of Grizzlies offense; therefore they were able to limit him to 29 points on 11-for-14 shooting in Game 1. While not an ideal performance overall, at least Lakers managed to hold him under 30 points and secure their career-high against them.

The Grizzlies’ Defense

After an unpredictable season, the Los Angeles Lakers have finally qualified for the playoffs as a top two seed in Western Conference. Unfortunately, they will face an uphill climb against Memphis Grizzlies to advance further than Round 1.

The Memphis Grizzlies have plenty to prove this postseason, with defense as one of their key strengths. Since reaching the top of the Western Conference standings, they have consistently ranked near the top in defensive rating and allowed only minimal points per 100 half-court plays (according to Cleaning The Glass data).

Key to their defensive success has been a tendency to trap baseline drives -- which often helps their opponents limit open jumpers against them and is especially effective against San Antonio Spurs, who shot an anemic 38.2% from beyond the arc during this stretch.

Defense can be challenging against this style of coverage, as it requires the defenders to be flexible enough to move around their man and out of their lane if necessary. But this strategy has proven itself successful against San Antonio Spurs. Watch this clip against them.

Grizzlies' teams who employ this type of coverage usually assign one player from their frontcourt to help out at the rim during drives, such as Zach Collins leaving his man to assist at the rim on this drive by getting the ball at midcourt and picking it up himself.

An effective play, the spin move helps prevent closeouts while simultaneously giving guard defenders time to recover quickly. Furthermore, this gives the Grizzlies an advantage in terms of playing zone defense as it allows them to alter game speed and keep opponents off balance.

The Memphis Grizzlies excel at shutting down the paint, as they allowed only 31.7 percent of shots from beyond the arc this season - something which may present difficulties for Lakers players, given they ranked 19th in 3-point shooting percentage during this time and have struggled against Memphis from distance.

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