The Los Angeles Lakers have advanced to the second round of the playoffs after a challenging regular season, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. The Lakers were able to keep the Grizzlies disoriented on offense, thanks in large part to a strong defensive performance from Anthony Davis, who registered five blocks and helped anchor an interior defense that limited the Grizzlies to just 25.7% shooting on 2-pointers. Davis also contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds to the Lakers' victory.
LeBron James overcame a subpar performance in Game 5, finishing with 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds, and became the second player in NBA history to win 40 career postseason series, joining Derek Fisher. The Lakers' supporting cast, which was acquired at the trade deadline, played a key role in the victory. D'Angelo Russell, who led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting, had his best playoff game ever, breaking a streak of never shooting better than 50% in a playoff game. Jarred Vanderbilt helped limit Ja Morant to 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting, while Rui Hachimura contributed 6 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including two electrifying dunks.
The Lakers were the first No.7 seed to pull off an opening round upset since the San Antonio Spurs in 2010 and only the sixth team in history. With their two stars healthy and a solid supporting cast, the Lakers are looking to make another run to the NBA finals.
In the second round, the Lakers will face off against the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, who came back from a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings in the first round, produced a display worthy of champions in the decider. Steph Curry had a playoff career-high 50 points on 20-of-38 shooting, along with eight assists and six rebounds, while Kevon Looney contributed 21 rebounds, 11 points, and 4 assists. The Warriors were slow to start but were able to keep up with the Kings and pull away in the third quarter thanks to Thompson's four-point play.
This will be the first Lakers-Warriors playoff series since the Lakers won the Western Conference semifinals 4-1 in 1991. The Curry-James rivalry has been the narrative of the last decade, with the pair famously facing off in four consecutive NBA finals from 2015 to 2018. Both players have won another championship since their last playoff meeting. The first game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the Chase Center in San Francisco. It will be a quick turnaround for the Warriors, who will have little time to rest before the start of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
Contributor: Ogunremi Abdul-Muiz Ayodeji (@Forza_Speziale)
Editor: Josh Bhagratie (@jshyb_)