Making the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent defensive performances even more impressive is that they’ve pulled them off without one of their best perimeter defenders. Wesley Matthews will miss the entire road trip as he was ruled out of Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to Achilles trouble.
Dealing with the Achilles injury is nothing new for Matthews as he actually suffered a tear in 2015 while a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Matthews was able to make a full recovery and remains a more than capable NBA player, but any time there are concerns about an Achilles with Matthews, there will surely be thoughts back to that time.
The Lakers are taking precautions with Matthews, however, and despite the missed time remain optimistic. “He did do an MRI, there’s nothing major there,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the team’s second consecutive win against the Houston Rockets.
“Just a little bit of swelling, so we wanted to take these two games and have him be off. We’ll re-evaluate on Thursday.”
There remains no timetable for Matthews’ return, but the Lakers will undoubtedly play things safe and take as much as time as necessary for him to make a full recovery. Vogel has the depth that will allow him to keep a full rotation with no drop off while Matthews recovers.
The Lakers can continue to go 10-deep in Matthews’ absence with second-year wing Talen Horton-Tucker taking on a larger role. The purpose of the Lakers’ offseason moves was to revamp the roster and give them the necessary depth to withstand any potential absences they will encounter during the season.
Matthews has been solid after a bit of a slow start to the season, bringing his reliable physical defense on the wing while knocking down 41% of 3-pointers. Matthews has three games with at least four 3s made so far.
No correlation with Matthews’ current injury and prior Achilles tear
A ruptured Achilles is one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can experience and Matthews has already dealt with it once before. As such, when the Lakers sit out Matthews due to tightness, the concerns are sure to follow.
But Vogel doesn’t believe there is anything to link the two injuries. “I don’t think there’s a correlation,” he said. “The medical team doesn’t think so. But early in the season, we’re going to be conservative with these types of flareups or whatever you want to call it.
“He had some soreness in there that was enough of a concern to hold him out. We have a deep team, so we’re going to be responsible with things like that.”
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