Ja Morant grabs LeBron James arm

Dec 29, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) grabs the hand of Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) after James makes a three point shot during the second half at the FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Grizzlies and Lakers matchup on January, 9th at Crypto.com Arena
  • Memphis owns a 2-1 advantage in the season series thanks to a pair of December wins
  • Read below for the Grizzlies vs Lakers betting preview and predictions

The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers duel for the fourth time this season on January, 9th at Crypto.com Arena. Memphis is on the second night of a back-to-back and a fifth game in seven days.

The Lakers last played on Friday night, seeing off the Atlanta Hawks on the back of a vintage LeBron James performance.

Their contest on December, 29th went the way of Memphis thanks to a 41-point gem from Ja Morant. This is a meeting of contrast, of a young, overachieving Grizzlies club, and a veteran, underwhelming core in the purple and gold.

Memphis occupies the four-seed heading into this game, and is building a bit of a buffer behind them. Los Angeles is having to fight ferociously for every win, and sits just above the Play-In spots.

Grizzlies vs Lakers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Memphis Grizzlies +1 (-110) -104 OFF
Los Angeles Lakers -1 (-110) -112 OFF

Odds as of Jan 08 from FanDuel

Injury Report

Ja Morant (thigh) and Kyle Anderson (back) both sat out Memphis’ Saturday game against the Clippers. It’s unclear if they will be available on Sunday.

Steven Adams was out on Saturday, and is expected to miss the second game in Los Angeles after entering health and safety protocols, while only time will tell if Xavier Tillman and John Konchar can return from protocols in time to play on Sunday.

Los Angeles has got healthy. Long-term absentees Kendrick Nunn and Anthony Davis look set to be the only players unavailable on Sunday, and Adams’ absence should make Frank Vogel’s night more straight-forward.

LeBron James has been playing the majority of his minutes at center of late. They were forced to use their traditional centers more than usual when they last faced Memphis, but with no Adams, the Lakers can get away with James and Stanley Johnson in the frontcourt for the majority of the game.

High-Paced Game

The Lakers have played at a high pace all season long. Going smaller with LeBron at the five, they have continued to get out and run. Spacing is still an issue with Russell Westbrook on the court — pushing the pace is one means of generating some easy buckets.

Memphis is 11th in pace on the season. Their style of play will vary considerably depending on who is available, but there’s more opportunity for them to get out in transition with Adams unavailable. Whether it’s Jaren Jackson Jr, Xavier Tillman or Brandon Clarke at the five, Memphis has the athleticism to fly up and down the court.

The Lakers are second in transition points per game. The Grizz are fifth. Los Angeles has the better transition defense, however, sitting fourth in opponent points per possession, while Memphis is below average by the same metric.

Both teams can push the ball up the court even after made baskets. While it was only 104-99 when they last met, this could be high-scoring if Memphis has its key offensive weapons.

The Grizz are 4-4-1 on the over with a rest disadvantage, while the over has cashed in 15 of the Lakers’ 26 home games.

The last two meetings have had 203 points apiece. Game one had 239 total points.

Prediction

Memphis is fifth in net rating at +7.6 over the last 10 games. The Lakers might have won four straight, but Memphis at its best is a much trickier opponent than Portland, Minnesota, Sacramento or Atlanta.

The Grizz force a lot of turnovers (fifth-highest turnover rate on defense). Their active defense contributed to the Lakers registering 18 turns in the last meeting, with five apiece for James and Westbrook.

While Adams is a miss, the Grizz are the better team than the Lakers if they have Morant, Bane, Dillon Brooks and Jackson available. Their depth continues to deliver, helping them rack up wins even without key rotation pieces.

The uncertainty over Morant’s availability makes this a difficult game to call. It’s worth noting, though, that Memphis has a +5.9 net rating without Morant. They are a good value bet on the moneyline even if the soon-to-be All-Star is out.

Pick: Grizzlies ML (-104)

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Sam Cox

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