D’Angelo Russell Believes He Prepared Himself Well To Have Impactful Postseason For Lakers
D'Angelo Russell, Draymond Green, Lakers, Warriors
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have shown through the first nine games of their postseason run that they don’t need to completely rely on dominance from LeBron James and Anthony Davis to win games. Five different players — including D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves — have led the Lakers in scoring for a game.

Russell, specifically, has led the team in assists in five of the nine games. And although his jump shot has been relatively inconsistent, he has had moments of taking over games. His best outing was Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies when he had 31 points in the 40-point blowout win.

For Russell, a lot of the focus has been on who has guarded him. He understands that other guys may receive more defensive attention, which allows him to do some of his best work.

“I’m trying to be in a position to take advantage of how they’re guarding us,” Russell said. “They got some of their best defenders guarding (LeBron James) or the defender guarding (Anthony Davis). A lot of teams two best defenders are guarding those guys. So for me to be able to take advantage of it on the back side and create things and be aggressive, it opens the game up.”

Russell said this after a blowout Game 3 victory against the Golden State Warriors in which he scored 21 points on 8-for-13 from the field and 5-for-8 from three. He was tied for the second-leading scorer with James behind Davis.

This success comes from an entire mindset shift from his first stint in L.A. during the first two seasons of his young career.

“It’s good knowing that I’m prepared for whatever’s next. I feel like I was prepared for the situation, prepared for this opportunity now. I prepared myself mentally and physically to have success under these circumstances,” Russell said. “Getting traded and things like that, you have to re-adjust your focus. Going through what I’ve been through in my short time as a pro prepared me for almost everything.

“Just being prepared and getting my mentality shifted to the right place and then attacking it from there, I’ve had some success. So I might not change that up.”

Russell absolutely carries himself as a more mature and grounded figure from his first L.A. stint, which is to be expected given that he is 27 now and was only 21 when he traded away from the Lakers the first time. He is also playing a role that is better suited for his playing style.

Hopefully, a successful playoff stint means a long-term deal with the team this summer as he enters unrestricted free agency. Those decisions will be made at some point soon, but for now, his focus can remain on helping the Lakers go on an unexpected championship run.

Russell says Lakers are in familiar position

When the series with the Warriors shifted from San Francisco to Los Angeles, things were tied at a game apiece with Golden State having just blown out the Lakers in Game 2. But Russell wasn’t concerned, saying that it was a familiar position from the Grizzlies series.

The Lakers proceeded to win Game 3 in both series in convincing fashion. Now, the test comes for Game 4, when the Lakers won an overtime game against Memphis to take a 3-1 series lead.

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