3 most to blame for close out failure vs. Warriors – Fitnessnacks & Sports

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    The Los Angeles Lakers’ job is not finished. They may have entered their Wednesday night contest up 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors in their second-round matchup, but LeBron James, of all people, knows just how dangerous this Warriors squad is. After all, he lost thrice to them in the NBA Finals.

    However, despite this knowledge, the Lakers were not able to replicate their efforts in Games 3 and 4, as the Warriors ran away with a 121-106 victory to set up a pivotal Game 6 clash at Arena.

    With the game falling away from the Lakers’ grasp to end the first half, the Purple and Gold lacked the necessary catalyst to step up and give the team with a jolt of energy. These are the sorts of defeat that’s difficult to pin on one man alone; the Lakers are known for their bruising, physical play, but the Warriors outworked them, even outrebounding them and almost matching them point for point in the paint.

    As is always the case, playing the blame game is unfair. But given what these players have shown in the past, it’s not too unfair to ask some players to simply play better than they did, especially with a golden opportunity to dethrone the Warriors right within their grasp.

    For the Lakers to avoid a potentially dangerous Game 7 back in San Francisco, these three will need to show up — or at the very least, play better than they did in Game 5.

    Here are the three Lakers who are most to blame for their failure to close out the Warriors in Game 5.

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    Jarred Vanderbilt

    How could a man who played just 11 minutes be the first player who must shoulder blame for the Lakers’ Game 5 defeat? It’s unclear who’s asking that question, but the answer lies in the query itself; Vanderbilt cannot be a total zero on offense that head coach Darvin Ham feels like he cannot be on the floor at crucial moments.

    With the way Game 5 was going, it was screaming for a signature Vanderbilt moment — a huge defensive stop, a monster offensive rebound — to breathe some life into the Lakers. Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins also had carte blanche when it came to scoring the basketball, and Anthony Davis, as monstrous of a defensive presence as he is, is just one man at the end of the day.

    Nevertheless, Vanderbilt couldn’t even see the floor, and it’s because he cramps the Lakers’ spacing.

    Sure, in Games 3 and 4, Jarred Vanderbilt barely played as well. He may not play much in Game 6 as well. But Vanderbilt cannot be total zero in his minutes, and he has to be ready to take center stage when the moment calls for it.

    Lonnie Walker IV

    Lonnie Walker IV deserved all the praise when he came out of nowhere to lift the Lakers in the fourth quarter of Game 4. After having to accept being out of the rotation, Walker remained ready, and he scored 15 points to give the Lakers a commanding 3-1 series lead. It sure seemed like Walker’s confidence is at an all-time high, so Darvin Ham made the decision to roll with Walker yet again with the Lakers trying to climb out of a hole against the Warriors.

    However, Walker did not have an encore. Instead, he fell flat on his face, scoring just four points in 28 minutes on 2-6 shooting from the field.

    It’s unfair to expect Lonnie Walker IV to come up huge every night. But during a game where the Lakers needed an offensive boost from him, he failed to deliver, which is rather unfortunate given how much trust he has earned from the coaching staff as of late.

    LeBron James

    LeBron James has seen it all in his career. Playing at an elite level since 2003, James now has a ton of mileage on his odometer. This mileage has made him a much smarter basketball player, but at his advanced age, this also means that he may have to conserve his energy in preparation for a better closeout opportunity.

    And it showed in Game 5; James, whose reading of the game makes him a plus defender still even at age 38, was simply a step too slow. Perhaps his foot was bothering him; still, in a closeout game, one would expect a much greater effort from one of the few players with a believable case for the Greatest Of All Time moniker.

    With that said, in front of a sold out Lakers crowd in Game 6, expect James to put up a better two-way performance to try and dispatch of the Warriors for good.

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