Key #3: The revenge of Montrezl Harrell
Vito Corleone, the Godfather himself, once said revenge is a dish best served cold. Unlike Magic City’s lemon pepper wings! Made famous by Lou Williams! Chicken wings are best served warm!
Montrezl Harrell had a difficult time in the bubble. Harrell was grieving over the loss of his grandmother, with whom he was very close. He (understandably) never seemed fully engaged in the Clippers’ playoff run.
He struggled to defend Denver Nuggets’ superstar big man Nikola Jokic. Harrell gave up four inches and 20 pounds in their matchup. It looked like Rocky Balboa fighting Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Jokic’s rainbow three-pointers were almost as deadly as Drago’s left hook.
But this was not a one-on-one battle. Basketball is a team sport. The Clippers are a collection of individuals. The Lakers are a team. This means a lot for Harrell. He got a lot of the blame for the Clippers collapse, deserved or not. The Lakers win and lose as a team.
Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel needs to pull Harrell to the side and have the holographic version of Paul George deliver the exact same postgame speech he delivered to the Clippers after they lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7. Postgame Speech P’s words must have convinced Harrell to take less money with the Lakers out of spite.
Harrell needs to channel his emotion in the right way. He has to outwork the Clippers on the glass every single time. Like on this possession.
Assuming Harrell comes off the bench, his direct matchup will be Ivica Zubac, who the Lakers discarded a couple of years ago. Zubac went from starting center to backing up Serge Ibaka. I am sure Harrell and Zubac have each other figured out by now judging by their battles in practice.
So Harrell will have to knock down a few midrange shots to force Zubac to respect his shot, then he can blow by him off the dribble. Harrell needs to sprint down the court to run Zubac and the rest of the Clippers off the court.
Like in the opening monologue of Tupac’s iconic song, Hail Mary: “Run quick see. What do we have here? Do you want to ride or die?”
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