The LA Lakers have sunk to the brink of playoff elimination after falling to a 3-2 series deficit to the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers fell short embarrassingly in Game 5 without star forward Anthony Davis due to a groin injury. However, Davis may have already indicated his status for the win-or-go-home contest on Thursday night.
Anthony Davis suffers groin injury in Game 4
The Lakers‘ title hopes took a massive hit after Davis suffered a groin injury in the first half of Game 4.
The seven-time All-Star went down late in the second quarter, forcing him to miss the second half. He finished the contest with six points on 2-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes played.
Davis attempted to play in Game 5 but didn’t receive the medical clearance to take the floor. It’s yet another injury hurdle piled on this challenging season.
However, the star forward may have hinted at his status for Game 6.
Anthony Davis didn’t voice 1 word to give Lakers fans a reason to believe ahead of Game 6
Before the Game 5 loss, Davis attempted to play despite the strained groin injury.
The 28-year-old went through a pair of workouts but couldn’t loosen up the injury to allow him to play.
However, Davis may have already indicated his hopeful plans for Game 6. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the seven-time All-Star subtly told a fan during Game 5 what he might have lined up for Thursday’s contest.
“While the Los Angeles Lakers were getting crushed coming out of a timeout in Game 5 against Phoenix, Anthony Davis looked over to an individual sitting courtside and nodded his head up and down to suggest everything is going to be OK. He flashed six fingers, as in a Game 6 return.” Haynes wrote.
It doesn’t cement that Davis will play, but it does demonstrate that he’s aiming to take the floor if his body responds. Head coach Frank Vogel voiced as much on Wednesday, telling the media that the star forward is “doing everything he can” to play in the win-or-go-home game.
Meanwhile, LeBron James is taking the less optimistic approach as he stated after Tuesday’s loss that he’s preparing as if Davis can’t play. Ultimately, it all comes down to his body responding well enough.
LA needs strong play from supporting cast to force Game 7
Davis’ return in Game 6 could provide the Lakers a significant left on both ends of the floor.
Even if the 28-year-old plays, it’s likely that the lingering injury will hamper his physical ability, placing greater importance on the supporting cast’s performance.
LA hasn’t received any consistent play from other key contributors through the first five games against the Suns. Kyle Kuzma is coming off his best scoring performance with 15 points in Game 5, but he’s averaging 7.2 points on 31.0% shooting from the floor and 19.0% from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder had an utterly forgettable outing Tuesday night, recording zero points on 0-for-9 shooting, including missing all four of his 3-point attempts. Montrezl Harrell has also been a playoff non-factor, averaging 7.0 points in 10.3 minutes per contest.
The Lakers will lean on James’ impressive resume in elimination playoff games, averaging 34.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.7 steals in 22 such contests. However, it comes down to the supporting cast of talent around the star players that forces Game 7.
As Vogel bluntly stated, it’s on the Lakers to show if they can respond with their backs against the wall.
“We’ll find out what we’re made of, and how bad we want this,” Vogel said via Mike Trudell of Spectrum Sportsnet.