Lakers News: LeBron James Knew Right Away That Austin Reaves Would Fit Well With Him
Austin Reaves LeBron James Lakers
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With things getting close down the stretch as the Memphis Grizzlies tried to take over Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, the Los Angeles Lakers put the ball in the hands of their closer. But it was not LeBron James or Anthony Davis initiating the offense, but undrafted second-year guard Austin Reaves who put the game away for the Lakers.

Reaves would score 14 points in the fourth quarter, including nine straight points after the Grizzlies cut their deficit to two late in the game, ensuring the Lakers would snatch home court away from the team with the best home record in the NBA. Even with Reaves having the hot hand late, one would think that eventually LeBron would take over and orchestrate things down the stretch, but the Lakers superstar insists that the team trusts Reaves with the ball at any time, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“We trust him with the ball in his hands early in the game and late in the game. We got something going in the fourth quarter. And after every stop or if we didn’t get a stop, I think Jaren Jackson went on a 5-0 run by himself when we went up seven, we went back to AR and just put the ball in his hands and he was able to hit a pull-up 2, able to hit a 3 when they kinda had a soft switch, and then hit another pull-up 2 to put us up 8. So he closed the game for us offensively.”

Oftentimes, teams will go back to their star players down the stretch, especially in playoff games. But LeBron having no problem deferring to Reaves is proof of how much he and the rest of the Lakers trust the second-year guard. Reaves was absolutely fearless in his first postseason contest, showing off the mindset and skillet that LeBron saw in him from their first practice together:

“Well not surprising to me. I knew from the first practice that we had when we grabbed him that it wasn’t gonna be long. He wasn’t gonna be a two-way player for long. Then a couple weeks went by and I knew he was gonna get a guaranteed contract at some point. I’ve been around the game long enough to know great basketball IQ players and I know the type of players that fit with my game and I knew Austin would be that right away. I gotta give a lot of credit to Coach Vogel on just throwing him into the fire and letting him learn on the fly and allowing him to make mistakes and allowing him just to play through a lot of stuff. But I knew the type of player that we was able to get in Austin. So it’s not surprising what he was doing tonight. Maybe to some of you guys who don’t watch him as much or don’t cover him as much, but I’m extremely happy for him and I want him to do it again.”

Reaves has become an absolutely vital piece for this Lakers team and his ability to create and score raises the ceiling of the Lakers immensely. He won’t be relied upon to close out every game, but the fact that he can carry the offense for stretches and is comfortable doing so at any point on any stage makes this team even more dangerous.

Lakers’ Austin Reaves says he dreamed of being on this playoff stage

Sometimes players can be overwhelmed in their first postseason appearance, but that was not the case for Reaves as this day was something he has been dreaming about for a long time.

The Lakers guard said that he dreamed of being on a stage like the one he found himself on Sunday afternoon and that there were a lot of emotions. Thankfully for the Lakers, he was able to harness that energy in the best way possible.

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