After protecting their home court, the Los Angeles Lakers now head back to the Bay Area with a 3-1 series lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. But closing out a team with the championship pedigree of the Warriors will be a very difficult task, and LeBron James knows this all too well.
As is well known, LeBron has a long history with the Warriors in the playoffs and understands that the Lakers are not out of the woods just yet. The Lakers have a chance to close this out on the road and James hopes his team learned from what happened in the first round against Memphis.
“Well, we had a little experience in Round 1,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ victory in Game 4. “Went on the road and didn’t play up to our abilities in Game 5 in Memphis. Every game for us is another opportunity for us to experience something that we just haven’t had as a group.
“We’re a relatively young group. You look at the teams in the postseason besides us. You got Phoenix, they added a couple new guys but their team kinda been assembled for the last few years. Obviously Denver has been together for years. Miami New York, Golden State. So every game for us throughout this postseason has been an opportunity for us to grow and see how we can be better. Tonight was another moment.”
Aside from LeBron and Anthony Davis, the only other Lakers player with significant playoff experience is Dennis Schroder. Even players who have made multiple postseason appearances like D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt never got out of the first round.
Players always say that the hardest game is the closeout game and that is especially true against this Warriors team. But LeBron believes the Lakers won’t relax, because playing against the Warriors doesn’t allow you to
“Whenever we play, I know it’s every other day, I don’t even know what today is, but whenever Game 5 is, it’ll be another opportunity for us to continue to grow as a ball club and I’ll think we’ll be ready,” James added. “One thing about when you play Golden State, you don’t have an opportunity to relax. You just don’t. So I’m not worried about us going in there comfortable. You just can’t do it versus Golden State, it’s not possible.”
Dropping Game 5 on the road will bring the series back to Los Angeles for what will be a must-win Game 6. While the Lakers did just fine in that position in the first round, the Warriors are not the Grizzlies and have a long history of big road wins in the postseason with their backs against the wall. As LeBron said, the Lakers simply can not afford to relax just yet.
LeBron James talks Lakers targeting Stephen Curry on defense late in Game 4
One of the ways the Lakers were able to storm back and take Game 4 was with their strategy on offense of simply finding Stephen Curry and attacking him. James was the catalyst on this and for the most part was happy with the results.
“It’s just reading the game,” LeBron said after the three-point win. “Figure out the best ways we can be effective offensively and we felt like that was an opportunity for us to try and get some good looks. Obviously that was what we went to and we were able to be successful on a lot of those possessions in the fourth.
“There’s a couple of them I wish I could of had back, but for the majority of the quarter we were able to get some good looks with using either me handling the ball with Lonnie setting it or whoever Steph’s man was, or me just setting pick-and-rolls on to Steph and seeing how they reacted to that.”
LeBron added that Curry and the Warriors were doing the same thing on their end as well. In the playoffs, you do whatever is necessary to get the victory.
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