Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Believes Rui Hachimura Could ‘Dominate’ Series Vs. Grizzlies
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first two games of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, there are two players tied for the team’s scoring lead. One of those is an expected one in LeBron James, but the other has surprisingly been reserve forward Rui Hachimura.

Hachimura sparked the Lakers in Game 1, tying a franchise record with 29 points off the bench in the Lakers’ victories. Then, after being challenged to have a repeat performance, Hachimura poured in 20 points in Game 2, being one of the few reliable offensive options.

The Lakers will be looking for Hachimura to continue that level of play back home with the series tied and D’Angelo Russell believes he is more than capable. Following Game 2, Russell noted that with how the Grizzlies are defending him, Hachimura could dominate this series, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Huge. He’s playing well. He’s doing everything that we ask. They’re allowing him to shoot the ball so he’s more than capable. I think he could dominate the series honestly.”

Following Game 1, Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane spoke about how their game plan was to allow Hachimura to shoot and see if he could beat them. After two consecutive games of making the Grizzlies pay for this strategy, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Memphis chose to switch up how they defend him.

Of course the trade-off to that could be more space to operate for Anthony Davis and James, which is something the Lakers would love to see especially in regard to Davis. Making sure he doesn’t get going is the top priority for the Grizzlies, but the more success Hachimura has, the better it could bode for opening Davis up.

But as Russell said, Hachimura is proving to be more than capable as a shooter so far in this series and he has the ability to continue making the Grizzlies pay if they don’t switch up their defensive strategy. Every playoff series has an ‘X-factor’ and so far Hachimura is proving to be that guy for the Lakers.

Rui Hachimura believes Lakers must match Grizzlies’ energy

Hachimura’s focus, much like the rest of the Lakers, is on getting wins and advancing in the postseason. Getting past the Grizzlies won’t be easy, and Hachimura believes the team has to match the energy and physicality Memphis brings to the table.

Following Game 2, Hachimura spoke on the Lakers’ need to match the Grizzlies’ energy, especially when they go small with himself and James as the bigs. Hachimura also noted that the Lakers’ best success comes when they lock down defensively and get multiple stops, which should be a focus as well.

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