Stephen A. Smith Makes Bold Claim Regarding Lakers Playoff Future

Austin Reaves, D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Boston Celtics

Getty Austin Reaves, D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Boston Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers currently hold a 1-0 lead in their first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

However, according to Stephen A. Smith, the injury to Ja Morant will further strengthen the Lakers’ ability to progress into the deeper rounds of the postseason, as the ESPN analyst believes there’s no way the Grizzlies can win without a fully healthy Morant leading the charge.

“The bottom line is, I thought that Memphis had a chance to probably win this series in seven games,” Smith said. “It was going to take Ja Morant being the star to pull it off, but I believe he’s the kind of star that could have done it. They have no chance, as far as I’m concerned now. With Steven Adams out. With a Brandon Clarke out. And then the loose Ja Morant, that is just entirely too much to overcome.”

After putting in an impressive performance, the Lakers will head into their second game against Memphis on Wednesday, April 19, full of confidence in their ability to take control of the series.

Ja Morant Expected to Miss Game 2

According to an April 17 report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who was speaking on an episode of NBA Today, Ja Morant is unlikely to take part in the second game between Memphis and Los Angeles.

“So listen, first of all, let’s start with this: Memphis is going to do everything they can,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ll hold this close to the vest between now and Wednesday night. It’s a competitive advantage in the playoffs to not let your opponent know who may or may not be playing. But I think certainly for Ja Morant, he talked about it yesterday, how much pain he was in leaving the game. It was a hand that already was wrapped, and then [he] re-injures it.”

Without Morant, the Grizzlies will be missing three members of their core rotation, which, when facing a healthy Lakers team, will put them at a severe disadvantage as Darvin Ham’s team look to take complete control of the series.

Rob Pelinka Praised Following Lakers Turnaround

Heading into the February 9 trade deadline, the Lakers looked like a team that was destined to miss out on the postseason for the second year running. However, a flurry of deadline deals revamped the roster, and Laker Nation hasn’t looked back since.

According to CBS Sports Sam Quinn, Pelinka deserves credit for the Lakers turnaround, as he continually found ways to improve his roster without stripping them of all their assets.

“I criticized Rob Pelinka for almost everything (and I’m looking dumb about most of those things!), but getting Rui Hachimura without giving up a first-round pick was a steal from the moment the trade was made. Just a home run of a “second draft” style trade,” Quinn Tweeted.

While it’s unlikely the Lakers will secure a sweep against the Grizzlies, a win in their upcoming game would put them in control of their own destiny and heap pressure onto an inexperienced Memphis team that they probably won’t be able to overcome.
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