In what could have been a preview of the Western Conference Semi-Finals if the standings hold to form, injuries are the prevailing storyline for both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz as they get set to meet at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon in the first of a two-game miniseries.
The Lakers injury situation has been compounding for quite some time, as it has been a complete guess who is going to be able to suit up and play on a nightly basis. As of Friday, nine players were on the Lakers injury report, including nearly all of their key contributors.
Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Jared Dudley have all already been ruled out, despite the recent good news that Davis had been fully cleared to return to action. Marc Gasol and Markieff Morris were considered questionable due to a volar plate fracture and an ankle sprain, respectively. The former is going to attempt to play on a limited basis while the latter is a game-time decision.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma, Andre Drummond, Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were all considered probable with various injuries and are expected to play except for Schroder, who is also a game-time decision.
The Jazz, on the other hand, will be missing nearly all of their top contributors. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, and Derrick Favors are all out. Mitchell is due to a recently suffered sprained ankle and the other three are listed out due to recovery from injury in what is the second game of a back-to-back for them.
With this, the Jazz will be heavily reliant on Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale for their offensive output.
This game is yet another in a troubling NBA season that is defined by who is not playing. Several big primetime games have been ruined due to injury, and this just adds to an ever-growing list.
The Lakers and Jazz play again on Monday, where perhaps more players will be available to play for both sides.
L.A. will hope to capitalize on all of the missing players by getting a much-needed win. As it stands, the Lakers are 1.5 games ahead of the No. 6 seeded Portland Trail Blazers and 2.0 games back of the No. 4 seeded Denver Nuggets. Winning this one keeps them in the driver’s seat for the No. 5 spot with Davis and James on the way back.
Lakers (34-22) vs. Jazz (42-14)
1:30 p.m. PT, Apr. 17, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN L.A.
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Wesley Matthews
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Ben McLemore, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alfonzo McKinnie
Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Joe Ingles
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic
PF: Royce O’Neale
C: Ersan Ilyasova
Key Reserves: Georges Niang, Matt Thomas, Miye Oni
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