Los Angeles Lakers star big man Anthony Davis missed 36 regular-season games, primarily due to an Achilles’ injury he suffered back on February 6. The Lakers ended up going 19-17 in the 36 game Davis was sidelined. They were 23-13 in games that Davis suited up in.
Why is this relevant? Unibrow suffered a groin strain in the first half of Los Angeles’ Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Suns in their first-round NBA Playoff series Sunday afternoon. He did not rejoin the Lakers to start the third quarter and was almost immediately ruled out for the remainder of the game.
The end result was an 100-92 Suns win with the series being tied at two heading into an all-important Game 5 Tuesday evening in Phoenix. The Suns outscored Los Angeles 27-15 in the third quarter without Anthony Davis in the mix — pretty much putting this one away in the process.
We have absolutely no idea how serious the injury might be. Davis will undergo further evaluation. More information will come. But we do know that groin injuries, no matter the severity, do have a way of lingering. It’s in this that the Western Conference title race is now completely up in the air. Here’s why.
Anthony Davis looked to be 100% prior to most-recent injury
Davis averaged 27.0 points and 9.3 rebound through the first three games of the series. That included consecutive 34-point performances after struggling in Game 1.
Remember, the eight-time All-Star had struggled to an extent toward the end of the regular season after returning from the aforementioned injury. He averaged 20.6 points and 7.2 rebounds on 42% shooting in 13 games. These are not terrible numbers. But they are in no way comparable to the AD we saw in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat to close out last season.
Anthony Davis NBA Finals stats: 25.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 57% shooting
Depending on the severity of his latest injury, Davis is not going to be 100% moving forward on the series. Of course, that’s dependent on him actually suiting up moving forward. We have no idea if that’s going to be the case.
LeBron James can’t do it alone
After a ho-hum first three quarters Sunday afternoon, King James picked it up big time in the final stanza. It led to Los Angeles actually making a game of it. All said, the reigning NBA Finals MVP scored 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting while dishing out six assists and recording 12 rebounds.
It was the rest of the Lakers’ roster that fell flat on their face en route to Los Angeles seeing home-court advantage stripped away heading into Game 5. It was pretty brutal stuff with Anthony Davis sidelined.
- Dennis Schroder: Eight points on 3-of-13 shooting (minus-8)
- Andre Drummond: Five points on 2-of-3 shooting (minus-9)
- Wesley Matthews: Six points on 2-of-5 shooting (minus-15)
- Kyle Kuzma: 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting (minus-13)
Marc Gasol and Alex Caruso joined King James and Kuzma as the only members of the Lakers with double-digit points. And for the second time in this series, Los Angeles was held to 92 points or less.
LeBron James might be superhuman, but he can’t do it on his own if Davis is going to be limited or miss some time. This is magnified by the fact that he was plus-six in a game the Lakers lost be eight. Ouch!
Anthony Davis’ injury and the Western Conference Playoffs
It was earlier in the weekend that the Portland Trail Blazers absolutely blew out the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their first-round series. Why is that significant? It tied the series up at two despite Damian Lillard connecting on just 1-of-10 shots.
For Portland, this might be a harbinger of things to come. The team’s playoff struggles in the past had coincided with relying on Lillard too much. That changed big time with Norman Powell going off for 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting in Game 4.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets boast leading NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic at the five. His performance this season has been legendary. Imagine what a second-round playoff series for an Anthony Davis-less Lakers team might look like against these Nuggets.
These are the two teams Los Angeles is looking at going up against in the Western Conference Semifinals should it defeat the Suns. Of course, it’s now nowhere near a guarantee that the Lakers advance past Round 1.
Injured Suns guard Chris Paul looked to be getting closer to 100% in Game 4, scoring 18 points and dishing out nine assists on 7-of-15 shooting. Should Paul’s relative return to health coincide with further injury issues relating to Anthony Davis, an argument could be made that Phoenix is favored moving forward.
Yeah, things are shaping up to be rather interesting in the Western Conference moving forward. Let’s just hope the Anthony Davis injury is not too serious. No one wants to see injuries of this ilk impact the NBA Playoffs. It’s been an all-too common theme in recent years.