In the Lakers’ previous playoff series against the Rockets, Dwight Howard did not see the floor much at all as Frank Vogel went with smaller lineups to combat the Rockets’ who really don’t even put out a true center on the floor. He played 11 minutes in the Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the Rockets, not being played at all in games 2-4 and only getting in momentarily at the end of the Game 5 blowout. Before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals started last night, Frank Vogel teased that the Lakers may be getting back to their big ways with Dwight and JaVale McGee, and he followed up on that tease. Dwight played 16 minutes and only had three rebounds, but he contributed on the defensive end with two steals and two blocks to go along with a productive night from the field with 13 points.
@DwightHoward & Doe was flat out AMAZING tonight!!! Big Time ✊🏾💪🏾
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 19, 2020
After the game, Dwight was asked about getting on the floor, specifically getting back on the floor to go against one of the best big men in the league in Nikola Jokic. Here’s what Dwight had to say about the matchup (quote reported by Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll):
“Well, he’s an awesome player and I loved watching his growth from when he came into the league until now. For me, as soon as I step on the court, I want to let him know that I’m there. Since we’re staying at the same hotel, I might meet him right outside his room and let him know that for the rest of the series I’m gonna be right there, locked on to you. It’s not nothing bad, it’s just competitive spirit inside of me. I appreciate his hard work and dedication to the game, and this is a great opportunity for myself, so I’m going to take advantage of any moment I have on the floor, and give my teammates and Laker Nation 110%.”
Dwight Howard told us the other day he loves to play against Nikola Jokic. When he checked in tonight, he wanted to show him he’s there — and maybe that Jokic should watch out off the court too. pic.twitter.com/nxYdJAiJn8
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) September 19, 2020
Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee combined to play pretty good defense on Jokic during Friday’s Game 1. Jokic still ended with 21 points which is definitely above his regular season average, but he only had three assists which is nearly unheard of for the facilitating big man. It has been said a lot that Jokic struggles with length and size in front of him as this not only stops him from driving to the basket, but it also clogs passing lanes that he can find with ease.
Don’t be surprised if Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee continue to get playing time in this series, as it worked well in Game 1.