In a back-and-forth series between the Lakers and Grizzlies, one of the few consistencies has been how badly the Lakers are losing the non-Anthony Davis minutes. It was evident early that the Lakers were struggling when Davis sat, partially due to how the Grizzlies attacked those minutes.
The Lakers have done little to address the issue throughout the series with Game 5 being the first time they’ve tried a new approach by inserting Wenyen Gabriel briefly. While that worked in a small sample size, it wasn’t something Ham stuck with in all non-AD minutes and, ultimately, that played at least some role in the Lakers falling in Game 5.
Ahead of an all-important Game 6, Ham and his coaching staff did a bit of self-evaluation.
Darvin Ham said that a big chunk of his coaching meeting today was focused on the team’s rotation and figuring out better ways to maximize the bench units.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) April 28, 2023
The Lakers once had success in the regular season with LeBron James and Rui Hachimura as the big men, but have not found that success in the postseason. Ham, perhaps still persuaded by that regular season success, has been very reluctant to change.
But with the season feeling like it’s effectively on the line in Game 6 and the backs against the wall, the Lakers and Ham appear finally ready to make some changes.
The good news is, things could hardly go worse than their current strategy, especially after Game 5. Perhaps the new approach is simply expanding Gabriel’s minutes even more. It’ll almost certainly include AD playing more minutes, something he already said he’s willing to do.
There’s the possibility of Mo Bamba minutes even though it’s been a very long time since he basically saw any minutes. It’s perhaps easier for role players to jump into a game and make an impact after not playing for an extended period when at home and fueled by the energy of the fans.
Regardless, the Lakers need to pull out all the stops to win in Game 6 and avoid not just a Game 7, but one on the road.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.