The LA Lakers fell to a disappointing loss in Game 4 to the Phoenix Suns, evening up the first-round playoff series. The concern after the contest focused entirely on star forward Anthony Davis‘ health. Before LeBron James and the Lakers head into Game 5 on Tuesday night, the team received discouraging news regarding Davis.
Anthony Davis suffers a groin injury in Game 4 against the Suns
The Lakers let the opportunity to grab a commanding 3-1 series over the Suns slip through their hands in Game 4.
However, the more significant concern lies with Davis suffering another discouraging injury. The star forward played only the first half as he strained his left groin late in the second quarter. He entered the game already hobbled from a sprained left knee, which only adds to the injury woes.
As the Lakers head into a pivotal Game 5, the team received another crushing blow regarding Davis’ health.
LeBron James ready to embrace immense pressure after Anthony Davis’ injury
Beyond the loss, the focus around the Lakers remains on Davis’ health as he works through yet another injury.
Further examination after Sunday’s loss determined that the 28-year-old will hold a day-to-day medical status. However, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that the star forward is unlikely to play Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The Lakers are unlikely to push the envelope due to Davis’ injury history over the last few months. All that place increased pressure on James to carry the team toward a Game 5 win to regather control of the series.
The four-time league MVP has voiced that he’s prepared for the challenging task ahead if Davis cannot take the court.
“These shoulders are built for a reason,” James said via The LA Times. “And if it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it. Win, lose or draw I’m ready for the challenge.”
As the first-round playoff series rolls along, James has rounded into form since his return from his ankle injury. He’s coming off his best performance after posting 25 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists in Game 4. James is averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 assists, and 7.3 rebounds on 49.4% shooting.
The Lakers will likely need the star forward to put together one of his vintage playoff performances where he takes over the game. LA will lean on him heavily to head the scoring efforts behind a heavy usage workload, likely bleeding into the 40-minute range to scrap out a much-needed playoff road win.
Chance for Kyle Kuzma to step up
Davis’ absence not only puts more pressure on James‘ shoulders, but it presents a unique opportunity for Kyle Kuzma.
The veteran forward has struggled in this year’s playoffs, averaging 5.3 points on 24.1% shooting from the floor and 18.6% from 3-point range. He’s coming off his most productive performance, recording 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting with four rebounds.
Over the last few weeks, Kuzma has struggled to find consistency, but he’s shown throughout his career that he’s capable of big offensive outings. The Lakers will need that, especially on the road against a Suns’ team that regathered momentum after the Game 4 road win.
Montrezl Harrell may also garner a more significant role with Davis sidelined due to the need for more frontcourt scoring and rebounding. His role has fluctuated throughout the playoffs as he’s played in only two games, averaging 6.0 points on 40% shooting in 10.0 minutes per contest. Harrell is coming off a scoreless outing in five minutes of action in Game 4.
The Lakers face a tough uphill battle on Tuesday night, but the team has the pieces to push them over the top.