Rui Hachimura exploded off the bench in Game 1 of Lakers vs. Grizzlies, scoring a playoff career-high 29 points to team with Austin Reaves and Anthony Davis to power Los Angeles to a decisive victory to open the series in Memphis, often while being disregarded and played off of by Grizz defenders.
Now, in the postseason you pretty much have to be willing give up something, and the Grizzlies chose to live by the Rui, die by the Rui and Game 1. He killed them, but there is little shame in that when you’re doing it to prevent LeBron James and Anthony Davis from going off. Sometimes you just get beat, and most teams would simply tip their hats.
As we’ve seen for the last two years, however, the Grizzlies are not most teams. From Ja Morant repeatedly doubling down on his “I’m fine in the West” comments to Dillon Brooks’ own “if you put him anywhere else, you’re not going to know who Draymond is” remarks, the Grizzlies are unafraid of providing a bit of bulletin board material to opponents. Add Desmond Bane to that list, as he definitely didn’t sound like he thinks Hachimura can repeat his Game 1 evisceration of the Grizz:
Desmond Bane on Rui Hachimura: “It’s probably the best game of his career. It’s a seven-game series. Let’s see if he can do it again Wednesday.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 16, 2023
Add it to the list of Grizzlies quotes over the last two years that have essentially boiled down to a famous local news chyron:
Still, does Bane maybe have a point? Sure, I guess. Before today, I certainly would not be counting on Rui to lead the team in scoring in two games in a playoff series. However, it’s also reasonable to say that:
- Most teams would still not basically dare him to in their postgame comments after a loss and...
- Bane may not be aware of the legend of Playoff Rui.
To be fair to Bane, I was also previously unaware of #PlayoffRui, but when going to Hachimura’s playoff game logs on Basketball-Reference to check just how unlikely this performance was, I came across the box scores for his five prior postseason games, all with the Wizards in the Eastern Conference first round in 2021:
- Game 1: 12 points
- Game 2: 11 points
- Game 3: 10 points
Ok, so nothing remarkable there, right? For a career 12.5 ppg scorer, that seems about what you’d expect. However, Games 4 and 5 were where the Magic started to happen:
- Game 4: 20 points
- Game 5: 21 points
Rui clearly got all the postseason seasoning and experience he needed in those first three games, and has been nowhere but up since. The Wizards may have been too terrible to take advantage of #PlayoffRui the next year, but now that he’s back in the postseason — where he is now averaging 17.2 ppg for his career — if current mathematical trends continue, Rui may actually be due to score MORE in Game 2 after going for 29 in Game 1.
But other than learning that Bane basically thinks he is bad at basketball, one other thing we learned about Rui after Game 1 is that he’s an elite receipt keeper. This is a man who keeps a video of himself dunking on Anthony Davis on his phone just to show him sometimes:
So if Rui goes off again on Wednesday, I will frankly be disappointed if he doesn’t celebrate by showing Bane a screengrab of that quote above, to which I’m sure Bane will respond: “Ok, but I bet you can’t do it three times!”
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.