The last thing the Los Angeles Lakers wanted to do was go back to Memphis with their first-round series tied against the Grizzlies at two. And in the biggest game of the season, it was not LeBron James or Anthony Davis who led the team in scoring, but rather that undrafted second-year guard by the name of Austin Reaves.
It was Reaves who finished with 23 points to go along with six assists as the Lakers walked away with a 117-111 overtime victory over the Grizzlies to take a 3-1 series lead. Reaves has become one of the most beloved players on the roster because of his efforts on a nightly basis, even garnering ‘MVP’ chants from the Lakers’ faithful. The young guard is appreciative of the love he receives from the home crowd.
“I mean, it’s love,” Reaves said of the MVP chants. “I’ve said many times I’m clearly not in the MVP race, but the way they support me, the way I believe that they love the way that I play. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got every night.
“Like I’ve said many times, I play for this organization in front of these fans, they expect this. They expect us to be in the playoffs and winning games and competing to go all the way. But just as far as the MVP stuff, it’s special. It’s a dream come true and if you would’ve told me that two years ago, I would’ve told you that you were crazy.”
No one would confuse Reaves with a legit MVP-caliber player, but he is extremely important to the success of this Lakers team. His six assists in Game 4 were second on the team trailing only LeBron and he is arguably the Lakers’ most reliable creator outside of James.
So far against the Grizzlies, Reaves is averaging 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists, without a doubt an excellent showing for his first career playoff series. And so far for Reaves, the experience in the postseason is everything he has dreamed of since he was a kid. The physicality is something that has stood out to him, however.
“It’s really physical,” Reaves said. “And just the intensity of the game, the atmosphere is times 10. But this is you know what you live to play for. As a kid, you’re in your backyard counting down the seconds of the last-second shot in the NBA Finals and obviously the first round but it’s a dream come true. And everything that you hear about it growing up is true.”
Every kid grows up thinking about moments like these, but very few are able to live them out. And for those who do, even fewer are able to deliver with so much pressure on them, especially in their first time in the postseason. Reaves has not shied away from the bright lights and the Lakers are ultimately the beneficiary.
The job is far from over against this feisty Grizzlies team, but Reaves has shown that his level of play at the end of the season can carry on into the playoffs and the Lakers will need every bit of that if they move on.
Lakers’ Austin Reaves calls Dillon Brooks trash talk ‘laughable stuff’
The dagger in the Lakers’ Game 4 victory came courtesy of James driving by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks for a layup and a foul that blew the roof off Crypto.com Arena. A moment that was poetic as Brooks has been trash-talking James for most of the series. But the Lakers as a whole, including Reaves, are paying no mind to his antics.
Prior to Game 4, Reaves called Brooks’ trash talk of LeBron ‘laughable stuff’ and ‘nonsense.’ The Lakers guard added that James would rather win than play into Brooks’ games and that proof was on display in the Lakers’ victory Monday night.
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