Can the Grizzlies finish a 3-1 comeback against the Lakers?

Memphis Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Grizzlies seemed down and out after their heart-breaking OT loss to the Lakers in game 4. Their dominant effort in game 5 however was just what they needed. Can they finish the 3-1 comeback? 

The Grizzlies kept their season alive Wednesday night, defeating the Lakers 116-99 in Game 5. They entered the game down 3-1 after a devastating loss in OT just two days prior, but they showed a lot of resilience to be able to win convincingly at home. The question now is whether they can win Game 6 in LA and force a winner-take-all Game 7 back home in Memphis. It is about as unlikely as it gets in the NBA, but it may be even more challenging than normal considering who they are facing.

Beating a LeBron James-led team is hard enough but doing so down 3-1 would be historic, not to mention him being egged on by Dillon Brooks. Can they do it? Or will the Grizzlies season end with a whimper?

Beating LeBron in the first round is nearly impossible

I am not interested in getting into the GOAT debate, but LeBron James is in that conversation for a multitude of reasons. He is a 4-time champion, the all-time NBA scoring leader, a 4-time MVP, etc. He also has almost never been defeated in a first-round playoff series, with the one exception being Phoenix in 2021. Considering he has missed the playoffs just twice since the 2005 season, that is a lot of chances to beat him without success.

Obviously, LeBron’s team has been heavily favored in most of those series. But the fact remains that the Grizzlies were facing an uphill battle historically, and now they face elimination for the next two games. James is older and maybe not quite as capable of taking over games as he was a few years ago, but his teammates have picked him up this series. That isn’t guaranteed to keep happening, but LeBron has enough left in the tank for it not to be needed.

If the Grizzlies do in fact win Game 6 in LA, they should be heavy favorites to close out the series in a home Game 7. But winning a Game 7 against LeBron hasn’t happened since 2008, so history once again won’t be on their side. All of that is bad enough without even mentioning the odds of coming back down 3-1. Teams are just 13-263 (4.7%) when trailing 3-1 in NBA history.

The Grizzlies are very much capable of pulling off a comeback, but it’s good to remember that history is firmly against them. It will make their potential triumph that much sweeter, and their potential loss easier to swallow. No matter what happens, this series has revealed some concerns that must be addressed this offseason.