Elimination-threatened Lakers start Hachimura and Schroder

The Los Angeles Lakers have made a belated decision.

“According to TNT’s Chris Haynes, the Lakers will change their starting lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday (Nov. 23).

안전놀이터 The Lakers will start Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, LeBron James, Austin Reeves, and Dennis Schroder, while D’Angelo Russell and Jared Vanderbilt, who have been the starters in this series, will come off the bench.

The Lakers haven’t made any major changes in this series. Schroder got the start in Game 1, but was limited. Most importantly, Russell, who has been struggling mightily throughout the series, hasn’t been able to get his knife out. The team would have been hoping for Russell to come alive, as they needed him to play a substantial role in order to match up with Denver.

But Russell never did. In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Nov. 21, he was held to a playoff-low three points. He had one game in the previous round where he scored five or fewer points, but he hasn’t been much help to his team this series, scoring just three points while struggling throughout. Crucially, when he did play, he had a -25, -16, and -12 point differential.

Eventually, the Lakers coaching staff decided to bring Russell off the bench. Defense is also important as they need to stop Denver’s Jermaine Murray. Schroder isn’t a great defender, but with the way Russell has been playing in this series, it’s hard to see him getting many minutes. Changes were expected ahead of Game 3, but only this time the team decided to shuffle the starting lineup.

Hachimura has also been a standout in the starting lineup. He has 17 points (.636 .500 1.000), 2.7 rebounds, and 1 assist in 30.7 minutes per game in three games this series. He’s been a big boost off the bench for the Lakers. He has the highest field goal percentage of any player in this series. He’s been incredibly efficient despite taking fewer shots.

We can’t overlook the downside. With Hachimura in the lineup, the Lakers’ current bench strength would be significantly weakened, which means they might not be able to sustain their offense throughout the game. Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley are long gone from the rotation. Realistically, it’s just Russell, Lonnie Walker IV, and Vanderbilt, and unless Walker breaks out, it’s hard to see much offensive support.