The Lakers will have quite the uphill challenge starting with Game 4 on Monday. The good, even if ultimately underwhelming, news is that they’ll be back at full strength to make a potential last stand.
After being out for most of the postseason, Mo Bamba will return to the bench for the Lakers, as reported by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report on Sunday.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham tells @NBAonTNT he expects center Mo Bamba (ankle) to be available for Game 4 vs. Nuggets on Monday.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 21, 2023
Bamba hasn’t played anything other than garbage time in these playoffs. He hasn’t been in the rotation at all since suffering this ankle injury back in early March.
Whether he would even factor into Game 4 is a fair question. The Lakers have struggled against Jokic at times this series, but they’ve struggled defending the Nuggets in general. Bamba could offer a new approach defensively as a changeup, but it’d quite the ask of the big man who hasn’t featured in the playoffs at all in any meaningful minutes.
His size and rim protection ability paired with his ability to space the floor could be the right kind of changeup as well. He’s probably not a long-term solution of any real substance, but the Lakers shouldn’t be thinking anything other than short-term.
With a team as gassed as the Lakers have looked, and Bamba being the only legitimate size they have off the bench, there are reasons he makes sense as an option. But, again, with his lack of familiarity with the players after many months off and the rust he likely has, it would be quite the roll of the dice. Can the Lakers afford to roll that dice with the season on the line?
It’ll be a tough call for Darvin Ham, but it’s another option he can at least consider now with Bamba back and healthy once more.
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