It is rare when an event as highly anticipated as the showdown between Steph Curry and LeBron James on Wednesday lives up to the expectations, but that game surely did. Steph Curry hung 37 points on a crisp 12-of-23 shooting night, and LeBron James posted a triple-double while hitting an amazing game-winner with 58.2 left on the clock. If you are a basketball fan, then you came away feeling satisfied after watching that one.
But, we are not about fun and frivolity here at VSiN! You are here because you want to know if there is anything of substance to take away from that game and apply to the future for Los Angeles, and I am here to tell you that there is!
At halftime, the Lakers looked destined for a meeting with Memphis on Friday. They trailed the Warriors by 13 points, were averaging just 0.857 points per possession and LeBron had just six points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor. Their spacing was poor and possessions were being wasted with Andre Drummond iso post-ups that ended in turnovers. Then, Frank Vogel and Anthony Davis decided to finally open things up, removed a true center from the floor and the game turned on a dime.
When Davis was playing power forward last night he went 1-of-11 from the floor; when Davis played center he went 9-of-13 and Los Angeles’ offense opened up. Cutting lanes were suddenly available, James and Davis pick-and-rolls tortured Warriors defenders and the Lakers went from well under a point per possession to a whopping 1.22 per possession in the second half.
During the regular season Davis played just 225 possessions at center, and Los Angeles posted a + 16.9 net rating in those minutes. Last night, the Lakers posted a + 32.0 net rating in the second half. It is pretty clear at this point that Davis needs to get over whatever it is he does not like about playing the five. Los Angeles is at its most dangerous when he does, and it almost had to play one more play-in game because of the refusal to do so.
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