The Los Angeles Lakers may be without Anthony Davis for a third straight game as they face Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies to conclude a five-game homestand.
Heading into Friday night’s matchup, Davis is questionable with the right Achilles tendonosis that has held him out of two games already. Alex Caruso — who missed the last two games as well — was upgraded to probable, along with Jared Dudley and LeBron James.
The Grizzles represent an uptick in competition level from the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers needed a combined four overtimes in three games against those inferior opponents, suggesting that same effort will likely result in a loss to the Grizzlies.
However, Memphis will be incredibly short-handed. Jaren Jackson Jr., Justise Winslow, Brandon Clarke, Sean McDermott, Killian Tillie and DeAnthony Melton all are out. This leaves them with just 10 active players, similar to the Thunder who played with eight on Wednesday.
But as long as Morant is playing, the Lakers will need to give their best effort to defeat a Grizzlies team sitting just on the outside of the Western Conference playoff race. They are coming off of a blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets in which seven players scored in double figures.
If Davis cannot go on Friday, there will be significant weight on the shoulders of Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell, who will have to take turns defending Jonas Valanciunas and Gorgui Dieng. This is the exact type of matchup that Gasol brings his most value.
Davis sitting out would also mean increased minutes for Markieff Morris, who will have to help defend traditional big men as well as the small-ball center like Xavier Tillman.
If Davis plays, he will be able to take some pressure off the Lakers defensively, as he could guard any of those players with relative ease.
Friday will also provide a huge challenge for Dennis Schroder and if he plays, Caruso. Morant is one of the craftiest point guards in the NBA, and his unique skillset will make Schroder and Caruso work for 48 minutes.
While the Lakers absolutely should win a game like this, they have take a lackadaisical approach of late. Perhaps they can put their foot down and extend their winning streak to seven without any drama.
Lakers (20-6) vs. Grizzlies (10-10)
7:00 p.m. PT, Feb. 12, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Dennis Schroder
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris, Talen Horton-Tucker
Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:
PG: Ja Morant
SG: Dillon Brooks
SF: Desmond Bane
PF: Kyle Anderson
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Key Reserves: Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng, Xavier Tillman, John Konchar
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!