Despite the game one loss, the Los Angeles Lakers made a few adjustments that could benefit them going forward in this series. Darvin Ham started the game with a three-guard starting lineup, but quickly found out this was not conducive to matching up against a tall Denver Nuggets lineup. A Nuggets team that has been one of the best rebounding teams in the postseason. However, Ham adjusted in the second half those adjustments will most likely be implemented in game two.
Lakers Head Coach, Darvin Ham, Considering Lineup Change for Game Two
Darvin Ham Could Insert Rui Hachimura Into Starting Rotation
D’Angelo Russell did not see a single minute of play in the second half of game one. He was simply too small to defend the likes of Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon. However, the Lakers feel as if they found something in matching Rui Hachimura on Nikola Jokic. Jokic only shot twice in the fourth quarter of game one and got all his fourth quarter points off free-throws.
Rui will certainly not neutralize Jokic completely in game two, but his size and stoutness will certainly make the big man work more and allow Anthony Davis to roam. However, Nuggets head coach, Michael Malone, will also make his own adjustments and Nikola Jokic will still be plenty effective even with the lineup change. As a result, Darvin Ham cannot make this the end-all be-all adjustment going forward.
Rui Hachimura’s Potential Impact Going Forward in the Western Conference Finals
Rui Hachimura was great defensively in game one holding Jokic to 0-2 from the field in six plays when guarding the two-time MVP. However, he can also get hot offensively. In game one, Hachimura finished with 17 points off the bench while shooting a very efficient 72.7 percent from the field. He can even stretch the defense as he hit his lone three-point shot of the night. Rui was one of the trade deadline acquisitions and he has been a seamless fit alongside LeBron James.
This regular season, the five-year power forward tallied 11.2 points, 4.5 total rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 48.6 percent. Rui has certainly found a role with the Los Angeles Lakers and now he just might be the x-factor going forward in the Western Conference Finals. Darvin Ham will still have his hands full trying to outcoach Michael Malone, but him inserting Rui Hachimura into the starting lineup is a step in the right direction.
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