If a player is confident enough to raise up from right here, literally on the logo, there’s nothing that the defense can do about it.
But Shai Gilgeous Alexander was already blazing hot by that point and was toying with the entire Lakers defense throughout the 4th quarter. So the confidence was extremely high and this heat check goes in, as the Thunder shock the Lakers for the second time in a week.
Alexander had a terrific night, but even more so it was the LA defense that allowed it.
So let me break down the defensive breakdowns of the Lakers and Shai’s big game.
What up everybody, my name is Stefan and this is Heat Check. Let’s get into it.
Watching the young Thunder guard do these effortless stepbacks chucking the ball up almost as if he doesn’t care, you would be fooled into thinking that he just had one of those nights and the ball went in.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth since the dude is shooting an astonishing 52.9% on stepbacks this season.
Just for comparison, the stepback king himself Luka Doncic is 31.9% this season on those shots, and was 39.2% last year.
So yeah, Shai can make these and I’m not necessarily blaming the Lakers defense for that either.
What I am blaming them for however is this: Look at Shai off of the pick and roll just walking his way to the basket. Again, this is the exact same thing. Look at this. No help, no contest, nothing.
And check out this miscommunication. You can see that Ty Jerome is guarded by Reeves, and Williams is Anthony’s man but on the screen, both Melo And Reeves continue to chase the ball leaving Williams to roam free at the 3 point line. So, we got the pass for a wide open shot and the swish.
On this play, despite the fact that Lu Dort is going straight into a double team, and the Lakers have a rim protector under the basket, Anthony Davis is stuck right here just watching the play and not guarding anyone. So on the kick out, Basley is again wide open for this three point shot and he knocks it down.
Again, look at the lackadaisical defense on this pick and roll which wasn’t even run all that well. Ty Jerome calmly walks his way to an easy layup as AD literally allowed him to do just that.
And what kind of defense is this on the drive as Davis is watching Basely laying the ball up without even trying to make things difficult for him. Unbelievable.
Which is how we get to possibly the most insane defensive mistake I’ve seen in a long time.
Down by 2 with little time left, Lakers will obviously foul here, but as Shai gets the ball, look at Westbrook completely leaving his man as he inexplicably runs to chase Alexander.
Just watch this as there are 4 defenders around Shai, and a completely wide open Lu Dort under the basket.
These were probably the easiest 2 points of the night, exactly the ones that helped seal the win for OKC. This is crazy.
The fact that last year the Lakers were number 1, the best defense in the NBA and now they’re 17th at the start of this season explains a lot of the early struggles for this team so far, and shows that they have a long way to go if they want to play in June.
Things are only getting more and more difficult for them as Lebron James is expected to miss at least 1 week with an abdominal strain. On top of that Anthony Davis jammed his thumb and played the second half with a wrap on it, which you could tell that it had an impact as he followed an aggressive 8 for 13 in the first, with a modest 3 for 7 in the 2nd half.
So all in all expect more of these ugly games as they continue to figure things out and find out the winning formula for the playoffs.
Let me know in the comments where do you see the Lakers in 10 games. What’s their record? That’s it for now, subscribe and talk to you in the next one. Peace out.