Lakers News: Austin Reaves Says Guarding Warriors’ Stephen Curry During Playoffs Was ‘Hell’
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On their path to the Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers had to face two of the league’s most electrifying guards in Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry. With that, Lakers guard Austin Reaves was one of the main players tasked with the difficult defensive assignments.

Reaves split time with Jarred Vanderbilt, Dennis Schroder and others, but even with the split, it was clear that guarding Curry was taking a toll on each player’s individual energy. And while the Lakers were ultimately victorious in the series, Curry gave L.A. everything he had.

Reaves reminisced on the second round battle with their California counterparts and focused specifically on the task that was defending one of the game’s all-time great guards, via Showtime’s All The Smoke podcast:

“It’s hell, to be honest. But just the way that he moves without the ball. It’s their system, it fits him to perfection. You can’t ever relax. And I remember Game 1 and 2 chasing him and Klay (Thompson) around and I couldn’t make a shot. Everybody’s looking at me like ‘why can’t you make a shot’ and I’m like I ain’t got no legs. But yeah, his approach to the game is special. The way he sees the game and goes about the game, it was a lot of fun to play them. Obviously happy we won, but it was hell to guard him.”

While Reaves ultimately had a strong second round series offensively, it’s clear to see the adjustment period of guarding Curry and Thompson in the NBA sophomore’s first postseason experience.

In Games 1-3 of the series, Reaves averaged 9.0 points on 32.1% from the field and 28.6% from three. It included his only single-digit scoring performance of the postseason (seven in Game 2) when he went 3-for-11 from the field.

He figured it out in a big way, averaging 19.7 points on 48.7% from the field and 58.8% from three in Games 4-6. Included in that was a half-court shot at the end of the first half of Game 6, putting the home crowd on their feet in the Lakers’ closeout victory.

Reaves explains why he chose to go undrafted in 2021

Reaves famously opted to not be selected in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft in order to sign with the Lakers as a UDFA. He explained the choice, revealing that he and his agent had tiers based on where he would fit best and the Lakers were in the first tier.

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