5 things the Lakers must do to complete an upset of the Grizzlies

Dennis Schroder, Los Angeles Lakers, Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Dennis Schroder, Los Angeles Lakers, Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Thing #1: Containing Ja Morant

It seems like a daunting task to even try to guard the explosiveness of Morant, but the Lakers have no choice but to find a proper scheme to neutralize his scoring.

Per NBA Advanced Stats, Morant had the most possessions that featured him as the pick-and-roll ball handler in the whole NBA (12.8). It should be a no-brainer that they spam this play type of Morant even more during the series. So let’s talk about how the Lakers approached the Morant ball screens.

Going through the film, guards have two options for navigating the ball screens: either to go under or over the screen. Take note that this is also paired with a mix of drop and soft hedge coverage by Davis in the backline.

First, we look at the over option that the Lakers’ guards tried to take. Frankly, it didn’t turn out well because it puts them behind the ball, giving Morant a step ahead and making him capable of shooting over the top of defenders.

The second time both teams met, Morant had an excellent 28-point third quarter that spelled the difference in a Grizzlies win. The majority of his damage came from that very play, where they went over the screen.

It’s not a ton of times where they tried to go under the screen against Morant, yet the results were better compared to going over. The premise why it’s more advisable is because you keep the ball in front and Morant only shoots at 30.7% from the three-point area.

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In a series complete with star power and narrative, we are bound to see a compelling matchup between two identical squads. And even as the lower-seeded team, the Lakers winning over the Grizzlies is definitely a possibility if they hit the right notes.