In episode number two of “The Anthony Irwin Show,” I welcomed Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com and “The Dunker Spot” to discuss everything we saw from Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
As everyone might expect, we started with the absolute top story to come out of the game: whether the league didn’t go far enough to rig the outcome for the Lakers. Clearly, they didn’t.
With the ice properly broken, we dove into the game, starting with both of us wondering why Marc Gasol hasn’t gotten up from the bench in a few games. Duncan explained that Gasol’s spacing would come in handy for a struggling Anthony Davis, and I almost snapped my neck nodding in agreement.
Tom Haberstroh of Meadowlark Media has some data that points to that being a pairing that should be leaned heavily on, not ignored altogether:
AD with Marc Gasol:— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 24, 2021
27.5 pts, 9.6 reb, 7.4 FTA (Lakers much better too) https://t.co/3efAf8hDpo
The point of coaching, or, frankly, strategy, is to put players in places to succeed. And while Andre Drummond nor Montrezl Harrell were in no way solely responsible for the Lakers losing game one, the time has long passed where they can continue making life as hard as they have on Davis and LeBron James with such antiquated spacial lineups.
All that said, it doesn’t particularly matter who else is on the court with Davis when he plays as passively as he did Sunday afternoon. Duncan and I got into the things we’ve seen from him, including a larger-picture view at his offensive approach this season compared to last year.
On the Suns side, Duncan and I marveled at how fast they looked compared to the Lakers — a stark contrast from how they found success throughout the regular season. As easy as it is to point to things the Lakers did poorly, Phoenix deserves credit for their gameplan and execution en route to that game one victory.
Finally, we took a closer look at James’ game and how the Lakers struggling in so many ways kind of took attention away from how little explosion he played with. Slow first games of series is kind of James’ M.O. at this point of his career, but there was basically no moment where he looked like anywhere close to the best athlete on the court. That will need to change.
Even with all that said, however, both Duncan and I remained confident in the Lakers for the remainder of this series. Frank Vogel isn’t going to come with such a vanilla game plan again. Davis won’t be that passive again. James at some point is going to look a little more like he did earlier in the season. Oh and the Lakers aren’t going to miss 24 out of 26 wide open threes again.
If those reasons for optimism weren’t light enough for you, as per usual, we end the show on the guest’s most embarrassing sports moment.
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For a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown with @AnthonyIrwinLA, in which he recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.