Without Anthony Davis, will the Lakers lose to the Suns?

Anthony Davis, Lakers, Suns


After game three of the first-round series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, it seemed the Lake Show and Anthony Davis had put the pieces together. The Purple and Gold looked like the defending champions—the same team that cruised to an NBA championship in a dominant performance last October.

Fast forward two days after, the Lakers’ titles hopes once again turned stormy. Anthony Davis, who started the game with a sore left knee, went down late in the second quarter. The Brow did not return back to the game in the second half, which could mean that the injury is a serious one.
The Lakers for now are labeling Davis’ injury as a groin strain, but there has been no update on how severe the injury is. 

This has been the story of the Lakers this season. A season full of injuries especially to two of their brightest players. Bad luck is an understatement to describe this season for the purple and gold. And if Davis is out for quite some time, there’s a good chance that the Lakers don’t escape the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. 
A glimpse of a Davis-less Lakers happened in the second half of game four and boy, it did not look good for the defending champions—at least until the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter. While James looked explosive in the first half of game four, he was not able to carry that over in the third quarter. Role players like Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol and Dennis Schorder showed some life but it wasn’t enough to cover Davis’ absence. 

Kyle Kuzma on how the Lakers need to play without AD: “We just gotta play in space, play with pace. I think if we can do that, get downhill, just get the ball poppin, we’ll be alright.”
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) May 30, 2021

And that’s exactly why the Lakers cannot win a series without Davis. He’s just too vital for this team’s success. The Brow is the ultimate cheat code for this Lakers team especially against the Suns. There’s nobody in this Phoenix team that can stop Davis at all, who had two back-to-back remarkable games after a lackluster first game performance. Those two games brought back the confidence that the Lakers would win this series. 

LeBron: “The health of AD is what’s most important for our ballclub.”
On the mindset if Anthony Davis can’t go on Tuesday and beyond: “It’s next man up. Obviously, if he’s not ready for Game 5, it’s going to be a tough blow for our ballclub…It’s been like that all year.”
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) May 30, 2021

Now with Davis out, is there a possibility for an important game five? All that confidence has gone out of the window, especially if a hobbled 36-year-old James has to carry more work load. For the Lakers to beat the Suns without Davis, they need to play a near perfect game. This means they have to make their three point shots (which has barely shown up in this series), James needs to score at least more than 25 points and role players have to play beyond what they’re required to do. 
Speaking of James, for as great as he is, the King is averaging 21.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game this season. This isn’t the typical round one playoff LeBron numbers. He’s recovering from a serious injury and banking on him to take over a series versus a really good second seeded team might seem a little too much to ask for. Has James done this before? Yes, he most certainly has but can he do this after coming off a serious high ankle sprain? That’s to be determined. 

Kyle Kuzma: “If AD’s not out there, we have to play a different style of basketball.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 30, 2021

As Kuzma alluded to after game four, the Lakers might have to play a different style of basketball with Davis out. With Davis out, there likely isn’t anyone that can stop Deandre Ayton—who has been superb for the Suns in his playoff debut. Davis’ absence could potentially add interior problems as well as lack of defensive power moving forward. The Lakers might have played better at the end of game four but this Suns team (a well coached squad) will make sure their margin for error is slim, especially with the Lakers’ second best player out. 

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