LeBron James has praised the Lakers’ mid-season roster changes after they eliminated the Warriors in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The defending NBA champions, the Warriors were the 6-seed in the West this season. The Lakers won Game 6 122-101 in Los Angeles, making it their fourth victory in the series. James, 38, scored game-high 30 points, along with 9 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 6.
The Lakers qualified for the playoffs as 7-seed via play-in tournament after a rocky start to the season. They were 2-10 early on and were in 13th place in February. However, after a series of mid-season trades, the Lakers climbed up the standing to the 7th place in the West. In January, they traded for Rui Hachimura. At the trade deadline, the Lakers moved Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley and acquired Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, among others.
After Game 6, James was asked why the new-look roster worked for the Lakers. He said: “It gave us a lot of shooting obviously with D-Lo [D’Angelo Russell] and Beas [Malik Beasley], and Mo Bamba. It gave us a lot of shooting, a lot of space to be around myself and AD [Anthony Davis]. We play on the perimeter, but we’re not like three-point shooters. I know I take my fair share.
“When you have that space, it allows us to do what we do best and kind of play downhill. But also just gave us a lot of depth, it gave us another ball handler in D-Lo, It takes some pressure off DS [Dennis Schroder], it takes some pressure off AR [Austin Reaves] at times and even myself.”
He added, “It gives us a lot of length when we added Rui [Hachimura] and added Vando [Jarred Vanderbilt]. We were very small early in the season, so we would get stops, but our rebounding was very difficult and challenging for us. So now with the length that we have we were able to rebound a lot better. And then I think the guys that came in, they just came in with no expectations. They just came in to say ‘Okay, well let’s figure this thing out.’”
The Lakers will now face the 1-seed Nuggets in the conference finals. The Nuggets defeated the Timberwolves 4-2 in the first round and the Suns 4-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Lakers will be looking to continue their strong form and secure a spot in the NBA Finals.