One of the early constants for the Lakers during the postseason so far has been the play of Rui Hachimura. Highlighted by an incredible outing in Game 1, Hachimura has been efficient, reliable, and impressive for the Lakers off the bench.
Saturday was the latest example of that as Rui scored seven points in one minute late in the first quarter to give the Lakers their 35-9 lead at the end of the period. He finished the game with 16 points on 6-10 shooting while knocking down both of his 3-pointers.
Hachimura has been a continued bright spot not just because of his important production but because the Lakers continue to find join in his success as well.
“We were thrilled when we got him,” head coach Darvin Ham said after the game. “We just encouraged him to continue working, to explore all facets of his game, to be assertive, aggressive. From the coaches to LeBron, AD, all of his teammates, we’re all telling him the same thing. I think that consistent message and just the love he gets shown, you can see it. He mentioned how he’s back to really enjoying the game again.
“Obviously, the success he’s having contributes to that but leading up to that, the work he’s put in, the support he’s given and just me constantly encouraging him to let it all hang out I think has put him in a great, great space.”
It’s hard to overstate how good Rui has been this postseason. From the beginning of the Grizzlies series, Memphis was content with letting him beat them and he’s happily taken advantage of that.
Rui Hachimura is at 1.75 PPP on spot-up opportunities in the playoffs. He has an effective field goal percentage of 89.5% on them. He ranks in the 96% percentile— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) April 23, 2023
For reference, Steph Curry was at 1.33 PPP in spot ups during the regular season.#PlayoffRui is real
Rui’s nine 3-pointers are the most of anyone in the series so far and he’s shooting 75% on them. His 65 points so far are third-most on the Lakers, just one point behind Anthony Davis, and more points than any Grizzlies player.
With his 16 points on Saturday, Hachimura became the first Lakers bench player since Luke Walton in 2008 to score at least 15 points in three straight playoff games off the bench.
“I’ve been practicing this shot the whole year,” Hachimura said. “I was waiting for this moment. I am just more confident shooting those threes and everybody keeps encouraging me to shoot those threes and be ready.”
The playoffs are as good of a time as any to catch fire and Rui is playing perhaps the best ball of his career at the most important time. It’s a 3-game sample size but he’s having a major impact on the series for the Lakers, as Russell predicted he could have earlier on in the playoffs.
For Rui, the high-pressure games are the ones he prefers, and that’s good news as the Lakers keep playing them.
“I’m just trying to play ball. I love those big games. I like the big moments. I think our chemistry is getting better every day, every game. We’re just having fun and winning those games.”
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.