The complexion of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns changed dramatically on Sunday when Anthony Davis went down with a groin strain near the end of Game 4’s first half. At the time of the injury, the Lakers were down by just one point, but they did not adjust quickly enough to not having Davis in the lineup.
They wound up losing by eight and allowing the Suns to even the series at two games apiece heading back to Phoenix for Game 5. Whether or not he’s able to go could be a huge determining factor in the series, as a 3-2 Lakers lead is drastically different from a 3-2 Suns lead.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel gave an official update on Davis’ status after an MRI. “He had an MRI and it confirmed a strained groin and he’ll be listed as questionable but he’s literally day-to-day. We’re gonna see how he feels tomorrow, we’re gonna treat it overnight and do everything we can to get him ready and we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow.”
His being questionable for Game 5 all but confirms that it is a Grade 1 strain, meaning there is no substantial tearing of the muscle. Even still, the Lakers may need to adjust to life without Davis very quickly. “Certainly our identity shifts if Anthony’s not in there. But it’s not unprecedented for us, we’ve played a large chunk of our season without him and hopefully we can draw on some of those experiences to see how we have to shift.”
Vogel credited Davis for wanting to fight through injury at all costs during the playoffs.
“Every great competitor is gonna be frustrated if they can’t be in there but I think he’s shown an incredible amount of toughness the last few years playing through injury. The other night when his knee wasn’t feeling all that great and he said he was gonna be out there no matter what, I think think that’s who he is. He’s a tough competitor that’s gonna play through stuff.”
If Davis plays in Game 5, it will likely be under heavy monitoring to ensure his injury doesn’t get worse. Even in that case, his presence would be a huge benefit in a must-win game.
If he cannot go, it will be up to LeBron James to lift up the rest of the roster to compensate for Davis’ absence. The Lakers went 11-7 this season with James in the lineup and Davis out. This shows that it’s doable, albeit very difficult, especially against an opponent of the Suns’ caliber.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also questionable
One way to help compensate for the potential loss of Davis for Game 5 would be to have all the other pieces healthy and playing their best basketball. This means Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who sat out Game 4 with a knee contusion, needs to do what he can to get back in the lineup.
Caldwell-Pope said he was feeling much better than he did on Sunday, but remains questionable, likely waiting to see how he feels during his pre-game routine.
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