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Grizzlies Insider: Welcome to the play-in party, Los Angeles
 
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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
 

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Welcome back to your Grizzlies Insider, where we deliver the latest NBA news and analysis straight from Daily Memphian staffers Drew Hill, Chris Herrington and Geoff Calkins right into your inbox.

At least LeBron James wasn’t going to be walking through that door.

Or is he?

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The Grizzlies have been in NBA playoff play-in contention the entire season, and cruising along with them have been the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. Thanks to injuries, one more team can be added to that list: The reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers. 

The Lakers have been without James and his co-star Anthony Davis for a large chunk of the regular season’s second half. As a result, they have fallen from the top tier of playoff contenders to the mix that is on the verge of the play-in.

After contrasting weeks, Portland, Dallas and Los Angeles are now tied for sixth in the West standings, with the Mavericks holding the three-way tiebreaker. 

Portland and Los Angeles have one game left to determine who will earn the tiebreaker among themselves. 

What you are thinking is true. 

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That means with the playoffs right around the corner, the Grizzlies could be heading to the Staples Center for the seven vs. eight game against LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Oh boy!

It’s not so fun when you’re one of those teams in the play-in mix is it, LeBron?

Here’s what James had to say about the NBA’s play-in tournament following a loss Sunday night: “Whoever came up with that s--- needs to be fired.”

But here’s what he said last season in March as the NBA was figuring out a way to resume the season in the Orlando bubble. This, of course, was when the Lakers were the top seed and would take on whoever was forced to compete in the play-in. 

“One thing you can’t just do is go straight to the playoffs, because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position,” said James during the Road Trippin' Podcast in March 2020.

“You got Portland. You got Memphis…New Orleans and Sacramento tinkering around there…so if there’s five or ten games left…why not those guys battle it out? Make them play each other all five games?”

While the scenarios are different, each season has been wacky in its own way -- bubbles, condensed schedules, COVID-19 absences and more. 

So, LeBron, which is it?

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More from your Insider:


Herrington: Kyle Anderson has a case for 'Most Improved'

There are at least a couple of Grizzlies who merit serious consideration for year-end accolades, starting with Kyle Anderson.

Grizzlies blow 20-point lead in crushing loss to Magic

The Grizzlies led by as many as 20 points, but Cole Anthony sank a buzzer beater to lift the Magic to the win.

Grizzlies need second-half rally to beat Magic

It wasn’t pretty, but style points don’t matter in a playoff race. 

Herrington: The Grizzlies are in a playoff race; it’s time they embraced it

The team is facing at least three lineup disruptions, and there are just 11 regular-season games left to piece together the puzzle.

 
 
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