Perhaps the writing was on the wall for the Memphis Grizzlies after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James vowed he would better after his dismal Game 5 performance.
James has never lost a series in which he’s held a two-game lead and that streak continued as he helped lead the Lakers to an absolutely dominant win over the Grizzlies in Game 6. James scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with six assists and five rebounds. While the stat line might not jump out, his energy on both ends of the floor was palpable and set the tone for Los Angeles throughout the night.
Game 6 was the best opportunity for the Lakers to close out the series because they were at home, and James acknowledged that he and the team treated the matchup like it was Game 7.
“It was definitely a Game 7 mentality for us. We understood we had an opportunity to play in front of our fans. We wanted to try to end it tonight. We came out with the disposition with a next-play mentality. Even when we made mistakes, we brush it off right away and move on to the next play.
“So I just think from the start of the game, it was just locked in on our game plan all the way until the final seconds of the game.”
While advancing past the Grizzlies is a massive accomplishment given all the adversity they’ve had to deal with up to this point, James sent a message to his Lakers teammate postgame that things will only get more difficult from here on out.
“Because we got a young ballclub. Not much experience in the postseason, so just trying to give my knowledge about what I’ve been through and what they can expect,” James said of what he told them.
“As hard as this series felt and as hard as this series was, it gets even harder when you move a level up. So we were able to conquer level one, and now we move to level two. It gets harder and harder. They understood that, and they’ll be ready for it.”
James knows better than anyone what it’s like to advance farther and farther in the postseason, and this year is no different given the level of competition remaining. Los Angeles will have to wait until Sunday to figure out who its round two opponent will be, but either the Sacramento Kings or Golden State Warriors would present a different challenge entirely.
Regardless, getting the win and some extra rest should do wonders for L.A., who needs James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the roster as healthy as possible to continue this run. With James as locked in as he is and with a real shot to compete for a title, the Lakers should be in good shape moving forward.
Darvin Ham shares what locked in postseason LeBron James looks like behind scenes
With the regular season out of the way, James turns into an entirely different player both on and off the floor. The King is known for being more involved when it comes to game-planning and practices, and Darvin Ham supported that notion when talking about it’s been like to be around James during the playoffs.
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