Will Lakers start Rui Hachimura in Game 2? Why coach Darvin Ham is 'considering' lineup change vs. Nuggets
The Lakers are wasting no time when it comes to making adjustments.
While the Nuggets were in control of most of Game 1, the Lakers were able to make things interesting down the stretch. Now, head coach Darvin Ham is reportedly thinking about making a lineup change in Game 2 to better position the team to pick up from where they left off.
The change? Moving Rui Hachimura into the starting lineup.
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Will Lakers start Rui Hachimura in Game 2?
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is "considering" starting Hachimura in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, per Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes.
Hayes added that it's a decision Ham is "keeping very close to the vest."
Sources: Lakers are considering a lineup change for Game 2 versus Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/I8OhxN0Jcc— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 18, 2023
It's not yet clear who Hachimura would replace in the starting lineup. D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt have started in the most games alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, but Ham opted to start Dennis Schroder over Vanderbilt in Game 1 against the Nuggets.
Hachimura started in nine of the 33 games he appeared in with the Lakers during the regular season. He averaged 11.2 points and 5.9 rebounds on .469/.400/.630 shooting splits as a starter.
Why would the Lakers start Rui Hachimura?
Hachimura played well on both ends of the court in Game 1.
Not only did he give the Lakers a scoring punch off the bench with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field, but Hachimura spent some time guarding Nikola Jokic in the second half. While Jokic has a size advantage, putting Hachimura on him allowed Anthony Davis to roam more defensively.
Hachimura guarded Jokic well in those minutes. According to the matchup data, Jokic scored six points on 1-for-3 shooting and committed three turnovers when Hachimura was his primary defender.
Rui Hachimura had a big impact defensively in the series opener.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 17, 2023
Should he be in the starting lineup come Game 2? 👀 pic.twitter.com/TDZ4ls6j5Q
Click here for more on why Hachimura guarding Jokic could be a game-changer for the Lakers.