Lakers defense leads to Game 6 series clinching win over Warriors
After dropping game 5 at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers knew how critical it was to close out the defending champs at home. Head coach, Darvin Ham, continued to remind his team about the importance of efficient basketball and to limit turnovers. “It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, but we kept powering through. Our vibes stayed positive, and finally our new pieces came together tonight.” Lakers took those vibes and converted them into the team’s biggest home victory in over a decade. The Lakers stellar play helped eliminate the defending champion, Golden State Warriors, in game 6 with the score being 122 to 101.
The Los Angeles Lakers led the entire game. Since tip-off it was clear that the point of emphasis was to establish a defensive game and make sure they prevented Steph Curry from going on one of those scoring runs that make him unstoppable. Dennis Schroder drew the assignment this evening. Defensively, Schroder has been very effective coming off the bench and leading by example when guarding Steph Curry. His ability to fight over hedges and screens allowed coach Ham to make the decision to start him on Friday night. Schroder brought physicality on the perimeter that held Curry to shoot 4 of 14 three-pointers made. Lonnie Walker IV had another efficient night shooting 3 of 5 three-pointers with 13 points, but his third quarter defense is the highlight everyone will remember by contesting every shot that Warriors’ Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and even Steph Curry put up. The Lakers held the Warriors to under 38% field goal percentage and caused 11 turnovers. The ability to make three-pointers is a huge part of the success for the Warriors, and tonight was held to 27.1%.
With all that being said, one major factor for a Lakers victory was due to the seasoned veteran, LeBron James. His first 30-point game in the 2023 playoffs came at a crucial moment during a clinching game. He added nine rebounds and nine assists to his 30 points in game 6. “It was great to be able to play one of our most efficient games, one of our best games of the series, and it started because of the defensive matchup we had. We defended at a high level, and when we do that, we can be extremely good. I thought we were locked in for as close to 48 minutes as possible tonight.” It was also the supporting cast helping James tonight. Anthony Davis contributed 17 points and a critical 20 rebounds. Austin Reeves made highlight plays ending the night with 23 points, D’Angelo Russell made timely buckets with 19 points, and Rui Hachimura scored 9 points in addition to some major blocks and steals on the defensive end. Schroder received a controversial second technical after playing 25 minutes and was ejected after the altercation with Warriors’ Draymond Green. Nevertheless, LA picked up the slack as a team to hold the Warriors to only two players in double figures scoring (Curry 32, DiVencenzo 16 points). Lakers are now 7-0 at home in the Playoffs/Play-in Tournament and now plays the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference Finals and with a chance to make the 2022-2023 NBA Finals. This will be a rematch of the 2020 bubble playoffs that the Lakers ended up winning the series in five games.