With the Los Angeles Lakers likely heading into a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday night without Anthony Davis, one can’t help but wonder who will step up in his absence. The obvious answer is LeBron James, but the other players will need to do their best as well, and Kyle Kuzma may be the X-factor.
Kuzma has always shown flashes of potential, but he truly will need to be on top of his game in Game 5 for the Lakers to have a chance on the road without one of their stars.
While Kuzma got the start in the place of Davis to start the second half after he went down with the groin injury in Game 4, Frank Vogel declined to reveal if that will be the case in Game 5 even though he was pleased with his overall play.
“You think I’m gonna give you the direction I’m gonna go in? I’m not gonna give you the direction I’m gonna go in Game 5,” Vogel said after Monday’s practice. “Kuz played well. He missed a few plays here and there but his energy is always a positive for us, his positivity and just activity with how hard he plays is always a positive for us so I was pleased with how he stepped up in AD’s absence.”
Overall on the series, Kuzma has struggled offensively, averaging just 5.3 points on 24.1% shooting and 18.8% from deep. Even though he has been solid defensively and made some hustle plays, he will have to be better offensively to earn more minutes in Davis’ absence.
Kuzma’s positivity persists
After the Game 4 loss, Kuzma spoke in an optimistic tone about the Lakers’ chances in this series without Davis.
“I think we’re optimistic still. Being in the locker room having conversations. Just trying to figure it out,” Kuzma said. “We do that every game whether we win or whether we lose. We’re a team that’s trying to digest and figure what happened and we just try to go from there and I think that’s our mindset. We’ll be ready Game 5.”
Kuzma shot 36.1% from 3-point land this season so him regaining that form will go a long way in the Lakers coming away with a Game 5 win. Kuzma will also need to help make up for Davis’ rebounding and finish inside the way he’s shown he can do.
If the Lakers manage to pull off the victory tonight and Davis can return later in the series, this will help them greatly in being able to make a deep playoff run.
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