Lakers’ blueprint on how to stop another offensive onslaught from Devin Booker, revealed
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker had quite a playoff debut on Sunday, as he led his team to a hard-fought Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The defending champs had trouble preventing Booker from scoring at will, and unsurprisingly, the Lakers have dialed in on this aspect as they head into Game 2 on Tuesday.
Lakers swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the unenviable task of being Booker’s primary defender. KCP acknowledged that Booker is an elite scorer, but that he’s also confident that he has what it takes to match up against the Suns star:
“He’s a scorer and he can do it in all types of ways,” Caldwell-Pope said, via Eric D. Williams of SI.com. “So, I just try and have my focus more on the defensive end, and then when I’m open shoot the ball and knock down shots. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole career. And being in this organization for four years that’s been my job — 3-and-D. I take that very seriously. It’s going to be tough, but I lean my hat on my defense, so it’s going to be good.”
Despite Caldwell-Pope’s attempt to clamp down on him in Game 1, Booker still finished with a game-high 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is also well aware of Booker’s immense talent, and he also provided a preview of what type of defensive adjustment his team will need to make in order to try and prevent Booker from another offensive explosion:
“He had a good game, and we all have to be better,” Vogel said. “On the ball and it’s a five-man assignment. We have coverages in place. KCP (Caldwell-Pope) is as good as anybody sticking with a guy like Devin, but with elite scorers you have to bring help. And they use a lot of creative ways to get him involved.
“So, it’s a five-man job. KCP did a good job. He (Booker) played 45 minutes, so obviously his numbers are going to be more inflated than you would expect for a regular-season game. But we still have to go a better job of limiting his efficiency.”
All this is easier said than done, though. On paper, it sounds like an excellent game plan. Being able to execute the same, however, is an altogether different matter. At the end of the day, the Lakers’ ability to stop Devin Booker could prove to be the biggest factor for them in terms of turning this series around.