While their playoff hopes swindle in the balance, the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a crucial matchup tonight. One that will definitely be accompanied by a playoff-like atmosphere and intensity.
The Lakers have yet to beat the Grizzles this season, losing twice in Memphis.
Although the game tonight is at the Staples Center, look for the outcome to be the same as the previous two matchups this season.
Memphis is fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, while the Lakers are scrapping and finding any way to win games to sneak into the playoffs.
Currently, the Lakers hold a mere half-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
The Grizzles will be too much for the Lakers to handle, however.
The Lakers don't have a player on defense that can contain Mike Conley, who has been scoring in bunches lately.
He has the ball-handling skills to cruise past his defender (probably Steve Blake for the most part with Steve Nash out) and score, or dump it off to Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph.
As the old saying goes, defense wins championships, and the chase for the title is in full effect.
The Grizzles allow less than 90 points per game, while the Lakers allow a miserable average point total of more than 100.
The Lakers don't have anyone on their roster that can score consistently other than Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard at times. Look for the Grizzles to lock up on Bryant, frustrate him and make him to take a ton of shots—a lot of them forced and bad looks.
In what should be a closely contested game oozing with playoff passion, I think the Grizzlies pull out the victory, sticking a dagger in the Lakers' playoff hopes.
One thing is for certain: Kobe will shoot until his arms fall off, and the Grizzlies will be more than happy to see him launch a bunch of bad shots because he is lacking an overall quality supporting cast.
Prediction: Grizzles 99, Lakers 89