Prior to the 2020-21 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Wesley Matthews had started in all but two games he played in since 2012-13. So when the Lakers announced that Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be the team’s regular starting backcourt at the beginning of the season, it meant a major change in the role that Matthews had gotten used to.
Throughout this season, Matthews has dealt with his minutes being given and taken away on a game-to-game basis. He missed 14 games this season — only three due to injury — and started in just 10 of his 58 played games. Despite that, he has been a constant professional and has been especially incredible in the last few weeks during the Lakers’ postseason push.
Matthews spoke about how the adjustment has affected him and what he’s done to stay ready and impactful regardless of his minutes. “It’s still a learning curve but relying on your faith, relying on your work,” Matthews said. “I got a hell of an army, hell of a team with me of family, friends, loved ones that continue to motivate but still staying humble and keeping my faith. And leaning on guys that have been in that situation.
“Me and Keef have gotten close throughout the season, all the times that we’ve battled against each other because he’s someone that I can kind of relate to what it is that I’ve gone through and other guys have gone through, not just myself. It’s an adjustment for everybody. Just learning, looking at how he prepared.
“The thing about basketball is you can always get better at something. You can always improve on something, it’s like life, you can always get better if you’re looking for it. So a lot of it for me was just mentality and like you said, as a career starter it was easy to get into a rhythm, to get going. But now it’s different, it’s an adjustment, but it’s something that no one is gonna pity, no one is gonna feel sorry, it’s just do your job. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Heading into the postseason, it’s unclear exactly what role Matthews will play on a game-to-game basis. In the Lakers Play-In Tournament win over the Golden State Warriors, he was a DNP in the first half but was one of the team’s best players in the second half as finished as a game-high +17.
Regardless of what happens with his minutes, Matthews has made it clear that he’ll continue to play hard in practices and stay ready for when his name is called.
Vogel discusses halftime message during wn over Warriors
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel discussed what was said during halftime of the win over the Warriors when they faced a 13-point deficit. “The message at halftime was we have to play more physical,” Vogel said. “The simple way to put it. The public way to put it (laughs).
“They played more physical than us in the first half. We didn’t play tough enough. They were stripping the ball from us, and when I say not tough enough, not tough enough offensively. Had to be better there and I think we came out in the second half and responded to that.”
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