Austin Reaves: ''We treated the game like it was a playoff game''

Austin Reaves Reflects on Lakers’ Historic Triumph in NBA In-Season Tournament

In a historic moment for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team clinched the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament championship, and one player, in particular, stood out despite facing adversity. Austin Reaves, the Lakers’ shooting guard, shared his thoughts on the team’s victory and resilient performance in the final game.

The Lakers sealed their championship title by defeating the Indiana Pacers with an impressive scoreline of 123-109 in the decisive final clash. While the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis rightfully garnered attention throughout the tournament, Reaves shone brightly in the championship game, contributing 28 points on 9/15 field goal shooting, along with 2 rebounds and 3 assists, all while battling the flu.

Speaking to SPORT24’s Harris Stavrou, Reaves shed light on the team’s mindset during the tournament. “We were focused on our goal, treating every possession like a playoff game,” he explained. The significance of being the first-ever champions in the NBA’s unique mid-season competition added a special value to their success.

Reaves emphasized the Lakers’ commitment to playing the right way and shared LeBron James’s encouragement to view the tournament as an opportunity for experiencing success. Humble in his approach, Reaves acknowledged LeBron’s comparison of his flu game to Michael Jordan’s, stating, “I let him talk, and I try to play the right way.”

Addressing the Lakers’ dominance on the boards, Reaves highlighted their ability to impact the game beyond three-point shooting, even on a night where their accuracy from downtown was subpar at 2/13. “We can dominate in many areas of the game,” Reaves noted, emphasizing the team’s adaptability to varying circumstances.

Reflecting on the unique single-game format of the In-Season Tournament, Reaves acknowledged the challenge of playing for a trophy in one decisive match. He praised the Pacers and teammate Cam Reddish, who played a pivotal role in controlling the tempo and making life difficult for opponents.

Finally, Reaves paid tribute to LeBron James, recognizing the NBA legend’s influence on and off the court. “His career says it all, he prepares us, he prepares himself, he’s the ultimate professional,” said Reaves, underscoring the invaluable mentorship the team receives from the seasoned superstar.

Currently boasting impressive averages of 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in the ongoing 2023-24 NBA season, Austin Reaves continues to be a key contributor to the Lakers’ success, both in tournament play and regular-season action. As the Lakers celebrate their In-Season Tournament triumph, Reaves remains a testament to the team’s resilience and determination in pursuit of excellence.

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