The Los Angeles Lakers, under the leadership of Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka, made a series of game-changing trades during the 2022-23 season, setting the stage for an impressive turnaround. In the aftermath of these strategic moves, the Lakers managed to secure the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, finishing with a respectable 43-39 record.
Their remarkable resurgence continued as they navigated their way through the challenging Western Conference, eventually earning a spot in the Conference Finals. However, their journey was cut short by the exceptional Denver Nuggets, who went on to claim their first NBA championship after easily dispatching the Miami Heat.
As the 2023-24 season approaches, the Lakers are determined to build on their success and improve their regular season performance. Their goal is clear: escape the play-in tournament bracket and secure homecourt advantage for at least a round or two in the upcoming playoffs.
One particularly intriguing matchup to watch this season is the Lakers’ road game on March 27, 2024, against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, whom the Lakers upset in the first round of the playoffs, will be looking for redemption. In the lead-up to that game, small forward Brooks of the Grizzlies had been notably confident, engaging in trash talk about his individual matchup against Lakers All-Star small forward LeBron James.
However, Brooks quickly realized the challenge he had taken on, as LeBron James effectively shut him down on both ends of the court. Brooks, the 6’7″ swingman, struggled with his shooting and saw his defensive prowess diminish throughout the series. In a significant change for the Grizzlies, they have now replaced Brooks’ fiery perimeter defense with that of former Celtics combo guard, Marcus Smart, the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year.
“This is a rematch of last season’s first-round series that saw the No. 7 seed Lakers take out the No. 2 seed Grizzlies in six games as the Lakers began their run to the [Conference Finals],” Martin writes. “While this rematch will not feature the entertaining Dillon Brooks vs. LeBron James storyline as Brooks is now in Houston, this game will feature Ja Morant as he will be clear of his 25-game suspension to open the season.”
With Marcus Smart on board, it is likely that someone else will have to step up to defend LeBron James. The anticipation for this rematch between the Lakers and the Grizzlies is mounting, and NBA fans are eagerly looking forward to what could be one of the most thrilling League Pass games of the 2023-24 regular season.
The battle is set to tip off at 5 p.m. PT, and it promises to be a clash of titans as both teams vie for supremacy in their quest for playoff success. Will the Lakers be able to continue their resurgence and avoid the play-in tournament, securing their spot among the elite teams of the Western Conference? Only time will tell.