The Lakers find themselves facing a challenging decision as they contemplate whether to bench D’Angelo Russell for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets. Russell, who joined the Lakers from the Timberwolves earlier this year, has started in every game since his arrival.
During Game 1 of the series, Russell struggled, scoring only 8 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 26 minutes of play. This performance follows a pattern of tough shooting nights for Russell in the previous playoff rounds. He scored just 5 points on 2-of-11 shooting in Game 2 against the Grizzlies and 4 points on 1-of-10 shooting in Game 4 against the Warriors.
The Lakers are concerned about how Russell would react to being benched, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Starting every game this postseason, the 27-year-old point guard might interpret the move as a demotion and could potentially become disheartened. Sources within the team have expressed worries about “losing” Russell due to such an adjustment.
In contrast, Dennis Schroder, who stands at 6’1″, has demonstrated comfort in a substitute role, not starting until Game 6 against the Warriors. Russell, however, was seen taking additional shots on the court after Game 1, still in uniform.
With Game 2 approaching, the Lakers face a difficult decision that could impact team chemistry and performance.