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Lakers vs. Heat Preview: The return of Anthony Davis?

Anthony Davis could return for the Lakers after missing the last 16 games with an MCL sprain when the team faces the Heat on Sunday.

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Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After more than a month of waiting, Sunday could finally be the day: The Lakers are listing Anthony Davis as a gametime decision for their road matchup with the Miami Heat, the first time Davis has not been ruled out on the injury report since suffering a sprained MCL in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 17.

That is obviously great news for anyone still holding out hope that these Lakers can turn their season around, because for as sub-par as Davis’ season has been by his own Herculean standards, this team has desperately missed their best defender and only regularly playable center.

Sunday would be as good a day as any to get him back for defensive reinforcements, too. The Heat (29-17, third place in the East) have been spit-roasting teams all season, averaging 112.3 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-most efficient offense in the NBA.

The Lakers had managed the ninth-best defense in the NBA before Davis went down, allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions. Since he got hurt, however, they’ve cratered, allowed 115.1 points per 100 possessions, the sixth-worst mark in the league over that span.

“We’ve made some decisions based on managing this time with Anthony out to play a lot of smaller lineups that have had huge benefits offensively for us,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Friday, “but we haven’t been able to hold the fort down on the other side of the ball well enough.”

Davis may not transform the Lakers on that end immediately after several weeks away, but long-term, he represents their last real chance to turn this season around, both defensively, and just in general. We’ll see if he and the Lakers can get that process started on Sunday.

Notes and Updates

  • Elsewhere on the injury report, Kendrick Nunn is still out with his bone bruise. He recently called the season-long absence “frustrating” in a tweet asking for patience from Lakers fans as he tries to work his way back.
  • LeBron James is once again probable with the same rectus abdominis strain he’s been playing through for most of the season.
  • Around the league, the big news of Saturday was the NBA mulling over a suspension for Bucks guard Grayson Allen after his dirty foul caused Bulls reserve Alex Caruso to fracture his wrist, requiring surgery. Here’s wishing the former Lakers guard as speedy a recovery as possible.

Be warned: This an early one as the Lakers continue their current east coast road swing. They will tip off against the Heat in Miami on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet, and nationally on NBA TV.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.