Stephen A. Smith thinks Grizzlies could beat Lakers in 1st round of NBA Playoffs

Jason Simpson
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers need to make it out of the play-in tournament before they can start thinking about who they may face in the first round of the playoffs, but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith already has some concerns for the Lakers if they have to deal with the Memphis Grizzlies in a series.

The way Smith sees it, the Lakers could go home in the first round of the playoffs if they run into the Grizzles.

“The Lakers could end up home in the first round,” Smith said. “Let’s just call it what it is. We want to applaud the Lakers for what they have done this year. They’ve got a chance. I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that they don’t have a chance. They got LeBron James. … Anthony Davis showed up. We know what he’s capable of when he’s on the basketball court. And since the trade that ultimately led to them acquiring [Malik] Beasley and D’Angelo Russell and [Jarred] Vanderbilt and these guys, they’re the best team in the Western Conference at 18-9 since that trade. … But we talking about the Memphis Grizzlies here. … Last time I checked, they got Ja Morant, and this brother is something special. And he’s on a mission. And the Memphis Grizzlies, by the way, have never made the NBA Finals. … I look at [Desmond] Bane. I look at Dillon Brooks. I look at Ja Morant. I look at Jaren Jackson Jr. … If he (Jackson) can find a way to get himself out of foul trouble, then let me be very, very clear to you, America: Memphis is no joke.”

The Grizzlies are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, meaning they’ll face the No. 7 seed in the first round. If the Lakers win their play-in game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, they will indeed face Memphis in a best-of-seven series.

Alternatively, if the Lakers were to lose their play-in game to Minnesota before earning the No. 8 seed in the second leg of the play-in, then L.A. would face the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

Denver and Memphis present legitimate challenges, but the Lakers held their own against both teams in the regular season. They went 2-2 against the Nuggets and 2-1 against the Grizzlies. Playoff basketball is a different animal compared to the regular season, but L.A.’s track record against those two teams this season is certainly worth something.

For now, the Lakers can’t look beyond Tuesday’s game against Minnesota. With a win, the team can officially clinch a spot in a postseason series for the first time since 2021.

It’s a safe bet that the Grizzlies and Nuggets will be keeping a close eye on the play-in tournament to see how things unfold. The Lakers are a rare example of a play-in team with legitimate title aspirations, so any squad that runs into L.A. this postseason is in for a challenge.

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Jason is excited about the LeBron James era of Lakers basketball and hopes that the end result will be multiple championships.