Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Not Changing Approach For Playoff Matchup Against Nuggets
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers, Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell ended the 2023 NBA Playoffs on a low note as he largely struggled against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Russell was abysmal on the floor and even got benched in Game 4 in favor of Dennis Schroder. Russell’s poor performance against the Nuggets nearly cost him his future with the Lakers, but the two ended up agreeing on a two-year deal.

However, things seem different this time around as Russell has locked in offensively and is in the midst of a career-year shooting the basketball from deep. Austin Reaves noted how important it is for Russell to get off to a hot start and the guard should be considered the X-factor for Los Angeles.

Despite the importance of the upcoming matchup, Russell isn’t switching up how he approaches Denver. “The same as it was against New Orleans, same shit. There’s no extra preparation for me. We’ve been preparing all year for whoever we’re gonna see in the postseason. Obviously y’all want to make it a Denver/DLo thing, but I’m ready to compete.”

Russell did acknowledge that his mindset is different when it’s time to prepare for a playoff opponent versus a regular season game.

“I think just whoever your matchup is, you value your preparation for them more than the regular season,” Russell said. “You’re facing a different team every other night, different city every other night, it’s rare that you see that same team back-to-back in that same four-day window. So this is different, the preparation is just a little heavier.”

Regarding what he needs to do to be successful this time against the Nuggets, Russell said that he’ll continue to let the game come to him.

“I don’t even think like that,” he added. “I try to think less, try to treat it like it’s the first game of the season, how it was a bunch of hype when we played Denver again and my approach was just care less, be free, be a butterfly out there. Just float. I’ve found that’s what’s been working for me.”

Russell can redeem himself with a strong series performance against Denver, though it remains to be seen if the guard will exorcise his playoff demons.

D’Angelo Russell believes he’s a different player from last year’s series against Nuggets

All eyes will be on Russell against Denver, but he’s confident that he’s a different player than he was last year.

“Yeah, for sure. Last year, I’ve spoken on how I felt, so just excited to go out there and compete.”

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