Lakers Rumors: Darvin Ham Considering Starting Rui Hachimura In Game 2 Against Nuggets
(Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

After finding success in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decided to stick with his small starting lineup with Dennis Schroder in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets.

Unfortunately, the Lakers’ lack of size cost them in the first quarter as they could not keep the Nuggets off the offensive glass. Anthony Davis also did his best to contain Nikola Jokic, but as the Lakers’ only rim protector, he was not able to both check the two-time MVP while also keeping the Nuggets’ other players from getting easy looks at the rim.

After the Lakers fell down by 20 points, Ham made an adjustment in the second half by putting Rui Hachimura on Jokic with Davis on Aaron Gordon. That allowed Davis to roam and protect the paint, which also kept the Nuggets off the offensive glass.

When discussing that adjustment, Ham was noncommittal about going back to it in Game 2 to start the game with a bigger lineup. It appears he is leaning that direction though, via Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report:

“Sources tell me Darvin Ham is considering starting Rui Hachimura for Game 2. It’s a decision he’s keeping very close to the vest.”

The Nuggets have one of the biggest starting fives in the league, so it makes sense for Ham and the Lakers to go away from their three-guard lineup after it struggled greatly in Game 1.

Ham’s adjustment of putting Hachimura on Jokic worked in Game 1 as the Lakers stormed all the way back to get within three in the final minute, although that comeback attempt ultimately fell just short.

The Nuggets will be ready for it in Game 2 though, so Ham and the Lakers will need to test out some different looks on Jokic outside of Hachimura to try to confuse an All-Star talent that can beat you in a variety of ways.

Lakers concerned they will ‘lose’ Russell if they move him to bench

As far as who Hachimura would replace in the Lakers’ starting lineup, Schroder is the obvious choice since he has come off the bench for a majority of the postseason.

One other option though could be D’Angelo Russell after he struggled on both ends of the floor in Game 1. Bruce Brown did not hide that the Nuggets’ plan was to attack Russell, so the Lakers guard will either need to defend better or knock down shots offensively to play significant minutes in this series.

The Lakers appear hesitant to move Russell to the bench though as there reportedly is fear that would ‘lose’ him mentally for the rest of the postseason.

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