The Lakers’ 127-97 Game 3 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday was the second straight series in which Los Angeles began with a win, lost, and then rallied with another win to go up 2-1.
With Los Angeles seeming to be on a seesaw, losing by 27 on Thursday then winning by 30 two days later, LeBron James is telling his teammates to disregard the outside hype that comes with every game outcome.
“For the young guys that haven’t been a part of the postseason or haven’t had much experience in the postseason, just stay off the TV and stay off social media,” James suggested after putting up 21 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. “When you win a game, everyone thinks you’re the best player in the world; when you lose a game, they’re throwing dirt on you.” It’s simply that easy. It all comes down to preparing your mind for the next task. ‘What’s the next challenge? This game is done, and we performed well. Okay, OK. But we’ll get another one on Monday.’”
Anthony Davis has become the face of the Lakers’ playoff ups and downs, with some fans speculating that his moniker, AD, stands for “alternate days,” owing to the discrepancy in his performance from night to night.
While it’s only been nine games, a small sample size compared to his consistency in the regular season, when he averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 56 games, Davis’ hot and cold performance continued on Saturday.
He impressively started the series with 30 points and 23 rebounds in Game 1. He then had 11 and 7 in a Game 2 defeat. Then it was 25 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3 to get back in track Saturday.
Davis stated after the Lakers went to 6-3 in the playoffs, 10 victories away from a championship, that he hasn’t heard any criticism of his performance this postseason and that his mentality hasn’t changed from game to game, even though his stats have.
“I’m not on social media,” Davis said. “My teammates aren’t talking about it, and neither is my inner circle, so I haven’t [heard about it].” It’s insane.”
Davis shot 7-for-10 from the field and 11-for-12 from the foul line in Game 3. In Game 2, he went 5-for-11 from the field (1-for-1 on free throws) and 11-for-19 (8-for-8 on free throws) in Game 1.
So I see it as though I merely missed shots. “I did nothing differently. “I know, particularly this time of year, I throw everything on the floor and that’s all I can do.”
The greatest shift in the Lakers’ strategy in Game 3 was coach Darvin Ham’s decision to put Lonnie Walker IV ahead of Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley in his rotation. Walker, who had only played 27 minutes in the playoffs before to Saturday, finished with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in 25 minutes, four rebounds, and two steals.
The perimeter defence made the most impact in the Lakers’ effectiveness. After allowing the Warriors to hit 42 3-pointers in the previous two games, a record for the most 3-pointers made in the first two games in a series, Golden State shot 13-for-44 (29.5%) in Game 3.
“We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, if not the best,” James added, echoing what he stated after Game 2’s defeat. “And in order for us to reach our full potential, we must defend well.” And no club in this league challenges you more on that side than Golden State.”
Nothing in Game 3 – including D’Angelo Russell’s 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including the first 11 points in the first quarter – is a sure sign of what’s to come in Monday’s Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal in Los Angeles, Wednesday’s Game 5 in San Francisco, or beyond.
They can control playing with intensity, effort, and urgency, as Ham has been preaching since the Lakers tried to make up for their 2-10 start to the season by qualifying for the play-in round.
Shots will be fired. Shots will go wide. The legs of players will feel fresh one game and fatigued the next.
However, as James and Davis said on Saturday, the Lakers’ approach can be maintained if they are disciplined.
“Make no mistake, the deficit, us winning by whatever margin, 30 does not represent who that team truly is.” “Losing Game 2 does not represent who we are,” Ham said. “This is going to be a battle until the end.”