Reaves talked about the challenge of guarding Morant.
“Ja is just a really good player,” Reaves said. “Obviously as we’ve seen the last three years or so. There’s different variations we can do and different coverages we can try out, but at the end of the day, he’s a really good player and he’s gonna ultimately get his. So we just gotta limit him, make it hard for him in whatever way we can and it’s really just about us locking in and playing as hard as we can.”
Morant is one of the best players in the NBA. The two-time All-Star averaged 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 8.1 assists during the 2022-23 regular season while shooting 46.6% from the field, 30.7% from beyond the arc and 74.8% from the free-throw line. The Grizzlies went 1-2 versus the Lakers this season. Morant played in two games, finishing with 22 points in the loss and 39 points in the win.
Memphis has home-court advantage against Los Angeles in the first round, so the Lakers have to win at least one game on the road and protect home-court to win the series.
NBA Exec & Scout Are Picking the Lakers to Upset the Grizzlies
An NBA executive told The Athletic that he believes the Lakers can upset the Grizzlies in seven games.
“Woohoohoohoohoo … I’m gonna say Lakers,” the exec said. “LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James, you know? And you just wonder: Is there a little residual left from Ja’s late-season issues — on all fronts? I wonder how that’s still affecting people.”
The Grizzlies will be without centers Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, as both players are injured. Meanwhile, the Lakers have no injuries to report. A scout who spoke to The Athletic is also picking Los Angeles to take down Memphis.
“Obviously, the two key players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are healthy for the Lakers,” the scout said. “So that puts them at least even right from the get-go. The Lakers can win on the road. Memphis doesn’t have Brandon Clarke. … I think it’s kind of an even series. Because of the LeBron factor and the Davis factor, I don’t think the home court is going to matter that much, and there’s no Steven Adams, either. The Grizzlies are playing Xavier Tillman. Tillman’s been their starting five for the last quarter of the season, so they’re depleted. You might even give the Lakers the edge there, especially if they take one in Memphis. … I think missing Clarke and Adams is big for Memphis even though Jaren Jackson Jr. did lead the league in shot-blocking and Tillman’s been more than adequate as a starter. When push comes to shove, I’m going to pick LeBron James.”
Austin Reaves Wants to Re-Sign With the Lakers
Reaves, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, told Shams Charania of Stadium on April 10 that he wants to re-sign with the Lakers.
“Yeah I wanna be a Laker,” Reaves told Charania. “Obviously, they gave me the first opportunity. I was a huge Laker fan growing up. Big Kobe [Bryant] fan. So honestly, just to be able to play for the Lakers organization is special and I wanna be a Laker. So hopefully we can get this done and I can stay there for hopefully my whole career.”
Reaves, who went undrafted out of Oklahoma, averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season.