Anthony Davis is pretty banged up. Going into Sunday’s game, he was listed as questionable with a left knee sprain. While the Lakers star ultimately made the decision to play through it, he exited the game at halftime with a different injury: a left groin strain.
Davis will reportedly be day-to-day going forward, which suggests that he avoided a serious injury, but even a day-to-day diagnosis can prove to be costly in the postseason. For example, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was listed as day-to-day on Saturday, and missed Sunday’s game.
If Davis does miss Game 5, it would obviously be a huge blow for the Lakers because of the edge he gives them over the Suns on both ends of the floor. Through four games, Davis has averaged 21.8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks per game.
But the Lakers know that one player doesn’t make a team, and if Davis can’t play on Wednesday, that’s the mentality that they’ll have in Game 5, according to Marc Gasol.
“Obviously you miss a guy like AD, you center a lot of the offense around him, but I’m sorry, to me that’s not enough,” Gasol said after the Lakers’ loss on Sunday. “To me we have to have a ‘next man up mentality.’ I know that sounds cliche, but that’s the truth. We’ve still got to execute whatever we’re doing on the floor defensively, offensively, take more control of the game, dominate physically, communicate. All the little things that go by, possession by possession, that you need to do to win playoff games.”
Gasol was one of the few players that stepped up in Davis’ absence on Sunday. In 23 minutes, Gasol scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 3-5 shooting from 3-point range, in addition to the 8 rebounds and 3 blocks he contributed. He was one of three Lakers to end the game with a positive plus-minus. LeBron James and Alex Caruso were the others.
There is a chance the Lakers will need to try to steal Game 5 on the road without Davis. To do so, they’re going to need more from everyone on the roster, and Gasol believes that he and his teammates can deliver if they’re mentally locked in.
“There’s plenty of confidence that we can win without AD, that’s not even a question for anybody in the locker room,” Gasol said. “Obviously you lose him in the game, that can kind of get your mind off track a little bit for some people. It shouldn’t though. I don’t know if that was the case to be honest... But we’ve just got to keep playing. It’s as simple as that.”
The Lakers didn’t exactly look confident at the start of the two quarters they played without Davis on Sunday, but they found a nice rhythm at the end and only came up a few plays short of a comeback win. Hopefully that stretch is more indicative of what the Lakers can do without Davis than the minutes they struggled in.