If there is one major area the Los Angeles Lakers should have an advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies in this first round playoff series, it is in the paint with Anthony Davis. With the Grizzlies down two of their best big men, Davis should be able to dominate inside and set the tone for the Lakers.
While Davis has certainly done that on the defensive side of the court, totaling 12 blocks in the first two games and altering countless other shots, he has struggled offensively. Davis is averaging just 17.5 points on 45.2% shooting as the Grizzlies have swarmed him with double and triple teams any time he touches the ball.
With the series tied 1-1, the Lakers know they must get Davis going offensively to take control of the series and some of that falls on the team’s playmakers as well. Austin Reaves knows that if they can just get him a little more space to operate, he will be impossible to stop, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Just try to make it easier for him. Get him the ball in better spots. I feel like we got him the ball in a couple tough spots where he had to try to make a shot over two or three people. Just giving him a little bit more space and opportunity to play his game. He’s got so much talent that if you give him that he’s really hard to stop. But they did good defensively and we’ll watch the tape and see what we can do to help the whole group.”
Likewise, D’Angelo Russell gave credit to the Grizzlies for doing a good job defensively on Davis but added that the Lakers will figure out a response, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Like you do in every playoff series where some of the best players dominate, you try to double and make it hard for him. Always have two or three bodies on him, simple as that. They’re doing a good job of just keeping their bodies on him. We’ll figure it out, we’ll respond.”
Between Reaves, Russell and LeBron James, the Lakers have high IQ playmakers who can help to unlock Davis. The onus will also be on the coaching staff as well as Davis himself to ensure he has a dominant performance on both ends of the floor.
Whether it is playing with more pace, getting Davis moving before he gets the ball, players knocking down shots to make it harder for the Grizzlies to double team, or a combination of everything, the Lakers best chance of winning this series is a dominant Anthony Davis.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham explains how Grizzlies disrupted Anthony Davis in Game 2
As Reaves and Russell noted, the Lakers will need to look at the film to figure out exactly what changes need to be made, but head coach Darvin Ham already had a decent idea of what he saw from the Grizzlies and how they were able to make life difficult for Anthony Davis.
Ham credited the Grizzlies for raising their physicality and making things tough for Davis before he could even catch the ball and then crowding the paint when he did have the ball. The Lakers coaches will have their work cut out for them in turning things around and ensuring the Lakers protect their home court.
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!