Heading into their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Anthony Davis was considered to be the trump card for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Davis, who led the New Orleans Pelicans to a sweep over the Blazers during the 2018 NBA Playoffs, is a dominant two-way force when he wants to be and so far has asserted himself in this first round series.
After a disappointing Game 1, Davis has turned in two stellar performances and helped put the Lakers up 2-1 in the series. He got off to a slow starting Game 3, mustering all of six points in the first half.
Davis also missed four out of his first five free throw attempts, an ominous sign that could have led to a letdown for Los Angeles. However, Davis turned things around in the second half, scoring 23 points and making his presence felt on the defensive end.
“I got the ball in some of my sweet spots. Coach did a great job of drawing up a play and we kind of just kept going back to it. I told ‘Bron at half I got to take some of the pressure off of him,” Davis said of his second-half explosion.
“Only three shot attempts in the first half and I missed a ton of free throws. I didn’t want him to carry the team the entire time. I wanted to take some pressure off him. You’ve got guys trying to get into him and make it tough for him, picking him up 94 feet, so just tried to take some pressure off him so he didn’t have to come down and score every time.
“Once again, guys made shots, which opened up the floor for him and myself. You can’t really help off as much when we’re making shots.”
Davis added that he implored the rest of the team to stay focused on making shots to help keep the offense humming and help James shoulder the load. “I talked to guys in the huddle, it’s our job when he’s attacking to make shots. We’ve got to make shots for him,” he said.
Davis being able to bounce back from poor halves has to give the Lakers some relief as they are depending on him to be productive every time he takes the floor. He is too talented of a player to take a backseat, and James and the rest of the roster flourish when he takes it upon himself to make plays.
James explained after Game 2 that the Lakers were “built different,” and so far they are showing some resilience in the first round.
Game 4 is an excellent opportunity for Davis and Los Angeles to truly take control in this series.
Davis getting into aggressive mindset
With James as his running mate, Davis does not need to take control of the offense nearly as much as he did while he was with the Pelicans.
However, James previously said that the Lakers need to play through Davis given his talent and he has delivered the past two games. In Game 3, Davis was quiet to start but ramped up as soon as the second half began.
When asked how he changes gears, Davis admitted he does not do anything special. “Nothing really changes,” Davis said. “My routine has always been the same. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.
“Just playing with a lot of effort and energy, which you can control. I can control how hard I play and how much effort I play with. I can’t control shots being made, but I can control how I’m playing on the defensive end and my energy and effort.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!