General manager Rob Pelinka reshuffled the Lakers‘ roster to give LeBron James and Anthony Davis their best shot at another NBA title, but the two stars haven’t lived up to expectations so far in the Western Conference Finals, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.
L.A. trails the series 2-0 after letting a pair of winnable games slip away in Denver. James missed a layup and botched a wide-open dunk in the second quarter Thursday, while Davis shot just 4-of-15 from the field after a 40-point night in Game 1. Amick notes that neither player is as dominant as they were when L.A. defeated Denver in the 2020 conference finals, which is understandable with James considering that he’s 38, but it’s more puzzling for Davis, who should still be in his prime at age 30.
“I got the same looks,” Davis told reporters after Game 2. “… I liked all the looks that I got today. Just a lot of them (were) short. I’m going to continue to shoot those shots and I’ve got to be better, more efficient, (to) help the team win. So, I’ll be better.”
There’s more on the Lakers:
- James isn’t concerned about his three-point shooting, even though he’s off to an 0-for-10 start in the series, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James shot 32.1% from beyond the arc this season, his lowest figure in seven years, but his teammates are encouraging him to keep shooting whenever he’s open. “It’s LeBron James. I don’t think anybody bats an eye when he shoots a shot or questions his shot,” Austin Reaves said. “We want him taking whatever he feels comfortable with, just because he’s a winning basketball player for his whole career and that’s all he wants to do, he wants to win.”
- Coach Darvin Ham altered his starting five for Game 2, but the change he made wasn’t the one he needed, contends Kevin Pelton of ESPN. There was speculation that Rui Hachimura might start after he did an effective job guarding Nikola Jokic late in Game 1, but Ham opted to replace Dennis Schröder with Jarred Vanderbilt instead. Although Vanderbilt controlled Jamal Murray early on, he bogged down the offense due to his lack of shooting range. Pelton argues that Ham should consider starting Hachimura and Schröder while bringing D’Angelo Russell off the bench.
- Mohamed Bamba, who hasn’t played since April 28 because of left ankle soreness, may be able to return in Game 4 or 5, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
- The Lakers are virtually certain to match any offer sheets signed by Reaves or Hachimura, who are both restricted free agents, Wojnarowski states on the latest edition of his podcast (hat tip to Silver Screen and Roll). “I don’t see any scenario where the Lakers would not match on both,” Wojnarowski said. “They have to. … They’ve proved themselves to be win-now players with LeBron and Anthony Davis on their timeline (and) these are both starting-level players.”