Perhaps one of the most talked about players of the entire first round of the NBA Playoffs has been Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks. His topic of conversation, though, has nothing to do with his quality of play against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brooks has made headlines for various statements about LeBron James and the Lakers, including calling James old, saying that he doesn’t respect him and that he’s excited to knock L.A. out of the postseason. All of this has certainly motivated the Lakers, who now hold a 3-2 series lead with a chance to close things out in L.A. on Friday.
While Brooks has done all this talking, he hasn’t backed it up with his play. In fact, he’s played well below his typical averages. Through the first five games of the series, he’s posting 10.6 points per game on 30.3% from the field, 21.6% from three and 71.4% from the free throw line.
In total, he’s 8-for-37 from three. But Brooks isn’t concerned and believes it’s only a matter of time for him, according to Damichael Cole of Memphis News:
Dillon Brooks on his shooting struggles:
“It’s been challenging. I’m used to a certain standard for myself. … One of these games I’m going to break out for three or four threes and change the game.”
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) April 27, 2023
The Grizzlies are facing an elimination game in Los Angeles on Friday, meaning for Brooks, it would be a pretty good time to have that 3-4 3-pointer game. The Grizzlies were one of the worst road teams among postseason contenders during the regular season, however.
Memphis went 16-25 on the road this season, the second-worst road record of all 16 playoff teams (Warriors, 11-30). But Brooks actually shot significantly better on the road during the regular season than he did at home. He was a 35.7% 3-point shooter in 36 road games and a 28.8% 3-point shooter in 37 home games.
Even still, there is no reason for the Lakers to abandon their current defensive strategy of giving Brooks all the space he needs to operate, instead focusing on pressure against Ja Morant and the red-hot Desmond Bane.
Bane guarantees there will be a Game 7
After the Grizzlies defeated the Lakers in Game 5 to force a Game 6 in Los Angeles, Bane — who has scored over 30 in back-to-back games — staked his claim that the series would return to Memphis for a winner-take-all Game 7. Of course, he isn’t going to say anything different, but it certainly gives the Lakers potential bulletin-board material.
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