Marc Gasol watched from the bench as the Los Angeles Lakers struggled to contain DeAndre Ayton in Game 1 of their series with the Phoenix Suns.
Just weeks before Sunday’s game, Gasol played a central role in the Lakers’ 123-110 win over the Suns with LeBron James sidelined. This match also marked the first time Frank Vogel played Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and Gasol in the same match. Gasol had the highest net odds (+25.6) among centers that night.
It was never realistic to think that all four of Davis, Drummond, Harrell and Gasol would play in the playoffs, especially with the time Davis moved up to both 4 and 5 in the playoffs, but it was a unsurprisingly to see Gasol – a player with more playoff experience than Drummond and Harrell combined – on the bench in a game where they mostly lagged behind.
Vogel didn’t say whether or not Gasol would get playing time in Game 2 after Monday’s practice, but explained why he didn’t turn to the big veteran.
“This match (a few weeks ago), we played Marc and Trezz together, which is a formation that we don’t really know very well, and I decided in the first match not to use this formation,” said Vogel said. “I have confidence in our three crosses, and AD in all five, so if I don’t go to a certain player or a certain player or a certain formation, it often has nothing to do with that player; it’s just trust in another player or formation, and I would say that’s the case with Marc not playing in Game 1.
The good news for Gasol is that Vogel doesn’t seem to think that going smaller is necessarily the answer to beating the Suns, so he could get burned in Game 2. However, Harrell and Drummond probably did just enough in Game 1. to keep their spots in the rotation for another game.
If that results in the Lakers winning Wednesday, then that’s great, but if the Lakers fight the same way, it will be difficult for Vogel to justify having Gasol on the bench again.
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