Hey, everyone, it’s Dan Woike from the L.A. Times, and welcome to another edition of the Lakers’ newsletter. This one is coming to you from an airplane as I return to Los Angeles after a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate my wife’s graduation after she earned her master’s degree.
I had pizza only once (well, from one pizza joint, the two slices for breakfast Sunday don’t count) so I’m ready to share my thoughts from the Lakers’ Game 3 win.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike’s weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
I watched the game at my parents’ home while Brad Turner, Andrew Greif, Helene Elliott and Dylan Hernández handled things from courtside and Thuc Nhi Nguyen live blogged the game.
Since I was in Chicago, how about 23 thoughts from Game 3:
1. Anthony Davis’ defense in Game 3 was totally sublime, the way he used his length to disrupt passing lanes completely changing how the Warriors tried to attack the Lakers’ defense.
2. Credit to coach Darvin Ham and his staff for moving Davis off of Draymond Green and onto JaMychal Green. It gave Davis more space to roam, and while JaMychal Green’s a decent spot-up shooter (see Game 2), he’s not the offensive initiator Draymond Green is (also see Game 2).
3. The other defensive adjustment was to have Austin Reaves, not Jarred Vanderbilt, chase Stephen Curry. Vanderbilt moved onto Draymond Green to give the Lakers a switch option to eliminate those 4-on-3 situations Green creates as a roller.
4. The defensive assignments Reaves has taken on this postseason, from Desmond Bane to Klay Thompson to Curry, have undoubtedly limited his offensive output — he had one shot blocked by Andrew Wiggins when he somehow managed to sink deeper into the court than elevating above it.
5. The Lakers need Reaves to score, at least somewhat, and it’s probably partly why the team sent him to the line in the first half to shoot technical and take-foul free throws in an attempt to get him into rhythm. The seven free throws he attempted in Game 3 were his first from the line since Game 5 in Memphis.
6. Keeping Reaves’ minutes low in the last two games should matter as he continues to chase the Warriors backcourt around. Games 2 and 3 were the first time he’d been under 30 in back-to-back games since March 14-15.
7. Reaves’ 2.55 miles run per game, via NBA tracking data, is the most on the Lakers. Davis, who has been everywhere on defense, yo-yoing between screens on the perimeter and the rim, has the second most.
8. Another tracking tidbit — no Laker has been, on average, slower on defense than LeBron James.
9. That’s what made him tracking down Andrew Wiggins to deflect a get-ahead pass such a memorable moment from Game 3 (OK, jumping over the front row helped make it memorable). Seeing James exert that kind of effort on the defensive end showed the level he can get to when he needs it.
10. In between those levels, he’s undoubtedly conserved energy on that end of the court floor. His quickness has definitely not looked the same since he returned from his foot injury.
11. James’ adjustment to complimentary player has been awkward at times, but the first quarter in Game 3 — when he took zero shots — gave the Lakers room for Davis and D’Angelo Russell to establish themselves.
12. There’s going to continue to be a huge spotlight on officials in this series, with the Warriors actually driving to the basket more than the Lakers.
13. Again, per NBA tracking data, Curry is driving to the rim 10.7 times per game this series. He’s shot zero free throws.
14. A lot of that credit goes to Davis, though, who has challenged shots without fouling. Still, you’d expect Curry to maybe hunt some free throws here and there. Jordan Poole is second on the Warriors with 6.0 drives per game this series — the same as the Lakers’ Russell.
15. The Warriors were going to regress some from three-point range after the first two games, but it’s still wild watching them take incredibly hard shots while expecting all of them to go in. The amount of consistent attention required is unmatched.
16. Here’s an obvious one — Green’s foul trouble was a huge factor. Removing him from the game affects the Warriors on both ends. While he was on the wrong end of some block/charge calls, Davis’ aggression against Green forced him into reactionary defense.
17. That Wiggins dunk was nasty (and so was that Gary Payton Jr. put-back slam).
18. Dennis Schroder giving the Lakers some production off the bench has been a big factor in the Lakers’ two wins. He’s probably the fastest Laker off the dribble, and the Warriors struggled to defend Sacramento’s fast guards in the previous round.
19. You know Thompson is going to bounce back in his second playoff game in Los Angeles against the Lakers. There aren’t many “firsts” left for him, and he experienced one on Saturday. Not sure how long the Lakers can guard him with Russell.
20. Lonnie Walker IV is really liked in the Lakers locker room and I can imagine how happy his team was for him on Saturday. He was really connected on defense to Thompson and is athletic enough to chase those guards around.
21. The Lakers creating catch-and-shoot threes off penetration is such a big key moving forward, needing Russell, Reaves, James and Rui Hachimura to step in and hit them.
22. Davis just feels like a way more effective player if the Lakers can get him an easy basket early.
23. I’m not sure how much the Warriors can reasonably expect if Jordan Poole plays like he did in the last two games. He’s been a total non-factor after having a strong Game 1 (minus missing the potential game-tying three at the buzzer). He’s more than an X-factor for them — he’s a massive safety net if Curry or Thompson struggles.
Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times
Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.
Song of the week
“San Francisco” by Foxygen
There’ll be at least one more trip to the Bay this postseason, and this song is the perfect companion.
In case you missed it
LeBron James and Lakers reclaim control of series with Game 3 rout of Warriors
Hernández: Lakers show how good they can be in Game 3 victory over Warriors
Elliott: Pieces of Lakers puzzle falling into place as they take series lead over Warriors
‘They controlled it’: How the Lakers dominated Warriors in Game 3 win
Anthony Davis not a factor in Lakers’ blowout Game 2 loss to Warriors
Plaschke: LeBron James and Anthony Davis face a harsh reality after Lakers’ Game 2 loss
Lakers defense had no answer for Klay Thompson, Warriors onslaught
Want Lakers vs. Warriors playoff tickets? No problem, as long as money is no object
Lakers survive Warriors’ three-point attack to grab home-court advantage
Plaschke: Anthony Davis silences ‘street clothes’ critics during Lakers’ win over Warriors
Dennis Schroder again gives Lakers boost off bench in Game 1 win over Warriors
Lakers-Warriors series: Plenty of story lines, but LeBron vs. Steph is No. 1
Lakers vs. Warriors: What scouts expect in playoff series
LeBron James and the Lakers eliminate Grizzlies in a Game 6 rout