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Lakers vs. Warriors Game 6 Preview: Gut check time

Anthony Davis is listed as probable for Game 6, a refreshing update after suffering a scary head injury in Game 5. The hope now is that he will be healthy enough to help the Lakers avoid a Game 7 in The Bay against the Warriors.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In our preview for Game 4, we discussed how everything was seemingly going according to plan for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their series against these Golden State Warriors was proceeding exactly how the first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies played out, with the Lakers winning Game 1 before dropping Game 2 behind a lackluster effort only to win big in Game 3. The script continued in that Game 4 with this series continuing to mirror its predecessor with a Warriors win at home in Game 5.

Because these events seem to be repeating themselves, that means the Lakers are guaranteed a win in a potentially-nerve-rattling Game 6, right?

Of course, that sentiment is wrong against any team in any playoff situation. But against these defending champion Warriors, and with the Lakers a bit battered and bruised... there are no certainties to be had on the purple-and-gold side of things.

Status of Anthony Davis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t care about the Lakers (would be weird since you’re reading this), you know that Anthony Davis suffered a head injury in the second half of the Lakers’ Game 5 loss on Wednesday. Davis had to be wheelchaired to the back, with some promising updates being had after that towards the end of the night.

Even with those updates, Davis’s status for Friday’s Game 6 seemed extremely doubtful given the fact that he may have suffered a concussion, which would have automatically ruled him out of Game 6 with the potential that he’d be missing the rest of the series.

Luckily, those updates continued to be positive with head coach Darvin Ham confirming his availability in media availability on Thursday, saying Davis would be listed as probable on the injury report with no concussion at all.

Now that we know that Davis is healthy and that he will be listed as probable, the worry now pivots to how he will look on the court following this scary moment. Will he be hesitant to draw contact? Will his conditioning and balance be out of sorts following the scary moment on Wednesday?

We should be able to find the answers to those questions early on for Davis, and hopefully, the answers are positive for him and the Lakers as they need to avoid a loss here that would send the series to The Bay for a Game 7. Those are the best two words in sports... but not right now.

It’ll still likely end in disaster on Friday if Davis isn’t at least close to 100%, even with the possible surprise absence of Andrew Wiggins, who was shockingly added to the injury report last minute with a left costal cartilage fracture. He’s currently listed as questionable.

But, oh boy, would it have been bad if AD was out. When Davis has been off the floor in these playoffs, the Lakers have a -6.2 net rating, which is the lowest rating for anyone on the roster.

It isn’t as important as securing the victory in addition to a ticket to the Western Conference Finals, but Davis could also shut up his critics with a monster performance if healthy enough for it. Wednesday evening and Thursday morning featured some of the most prominent voices in NBA coverage disparaging AD and, in one case, laughing at his head injury that really could have been way more serious.

To put it simply... it’s gut check time. But not only for AD.

LeBron seemed to aggravate his already injured foot during the second half as well. Jarred Vanderbilt has averaged 16.6 minutes per game this series, despite seeming like the Lakers’ x-factor in Game 1 with his defense on Stephen Curry, as his offensive limitations have played him off the floor. He had 0 points in 11 minutes in Game 5.

Austin Reaves hasn’t been able to make the same impact in this series as he did against the Grizzlies, seeming tired at times while trying to guard the likes of Curry and Klay Thompson. Lonnie Walker IV made Lakers playoff history in Game 4, but he couldn’t make a sizable impact in Golden State on Wednesday, scoring only 4 points in 28 minutes.

Everyone has to bring their “A” game, especially in support of the team’s two superstars who are banged up. Moreso than that, they have to have the most heightened sense of desperation they’ve had all season. This shouldn’t be Game 6 in their minds. Just as LeBron and the team treated Game 6 in their previous series... this is Game 7. There’s no games after this.

With the home crowd behind them, that type of desperation should at least give them a shot near the end of the game. Once there, hopefully AD has enough in the tank to finish things off just as well as he’s been able to carry them up to this point. And in doing so, he’ll get the Lakers one series away from the 2023 NBA Finals.

Notes and Updates

  • LeBron James (right foot soreness) joins Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) as being probable for Game 6. Mo Bamba is still dealing with left ankle soreness and will be listed as questionable.
  • As noted above, Wiggins could miss this Game 6 as he is listed as questionable. The Warriors will be without Andre Iguodala (left wrist surgery) and Ryan Rollins (right foot surgery). Patrick Baldwin Jr. (left toe soreness) is questionable.

The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be exclusively televised on ESPN.

You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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