Anthony Davis should NOT play in the Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest game of the season.
LeBron James and his defending-champion Lakers — facing elimination and an early-ticket home — should go it alone without A.D. in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center tonight.
We get it. Davis is what makes the Lakers go and gives them a legitimate chance to win another title. Davis helped the Lakers win it all last season.
But this is hardly last year.
Davis was healthy and playing great basketball.
This postseason, Davis has been banged up and oftentimes, not effective even when in the lineup.
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A strained groin kept him out of the Lakers’ embarrassing loss in Game 5, which pushed their season to the brink. The Lakers trail the series, 2-3.
Under normal circumstances, you want all hands on deck. For sure, a franchise would throw caution to the wind and want all its players to dive in headfirst. In order to survive, fans would expect all players to suck it up and give every ounce.
But that can’t be the case with A.D. in the here-and-now.
In fact, the Lakers need to think more about the future than this season.
The idea that Davis could play and further hurt himself is a scary proposition, especially for a fragile team that can’t score. Worse, a team that more and more doesn’t look capable of repeating as champs.
Davis, 28, has a history of always falling to the ground and getting hurt. So much so that TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley gave Davis a new nickname on national TV on Tuesday. Chuck called him “street clothes.” Goofing on the idea that Davis is always hurt and is often on the bench unavailable and out of uniform.
And the Lakers caught a break last season when he stayed healthy in The Bubble in Orlando.
The last thing the Lakers want to do is force him into action with a bad knee, groin, and still-healing Achilles that caused him to miss 30 games this season.
Davis is the future face of the Lakers. They can’t afford him to get seriously hurt and jeopardize next season, especially with the clock ticking on James’ long career.
And while most believe that Davis will suit up and give it a go, fans shouldn’t feel as certain.
On Wednesday, ESPN reported that Davis said it was in the Lakers’ medical staff’s hands whether he played in Game 6 or not. Davis said that his groin injury in Game 4 occurred after he hyperextended his left knee in Game 3.
And a groin isn’t that easy to shake. “I’ve had that injury — Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 — throughout my career,” said former MLB player/current TV analyst Jerry Hairston, Jr. on an L.A. radio show Wednesday night. “Usually, that Grade 1 takes about two weeks.
“And I saw A.D. trying to give it a go. I don’t see him coming (back). If he does come back, I think he’s putting himself in harm’s way. You have to remember he just came off the Achilles injury and that knee injury as well. It’s just a chain of events with your legs.”
The last time we saw a star player push themselves to get back on the court with an injury was when the Golden State Warriors let Kevin Durant, coming off a month-long calf injury, play in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals.
Durant went down with a ruptured Achilles injury and was done for the next 15 months.
The Lakers can’t afford the same thing to happen to Davis, who is already injury-prone.
Most of all, the Lakers need Davis to be effective, not just out there for moral support.
In the two games the Lakers lost in the first four, Davis played, but wasn’t effective. He struggled big time in Game 1. And in Game 4, he was doing much until he was hurt and was lost for the second half.
If Davis isn’t going to be effective and play well, why chance it? The Suns have proven that they can beat the Lakers when Davis isn’t Davis.
The stakes this time around are bigger than just surviving the first round. It could have massive ramifications if A.D. goes down with an injury. The Lakers would greatly regret it.