Los Angeles Lakers’ star Anthony Davis could possibly miss Thursday’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. Davis, who was a major part of the Lakers winning the NBA Finals in 2020, reaggravated his Achilles injury in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday, Davis’ Achilles has some swelling and the Lakers star will undergo an MRI on Monday.
Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis re-aggravated his right Achilles tendonosis and there's some swelling, source tells ESPN. He will get an MRI on Monday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 15, 2021
Late last month, Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he felt the Nets were the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.
1-on-1 with Anthony Davis: AD is going to be in a Super Bowl ad with Serena Williams, Peyton Manning & Jimmy Butler – and that's just his plans for next weekend. Great conversation about happiness, the cost of trying to repeat, and the team he thinks is most in the Lakers' way: pic.twitter.com/zqcnILdJtd
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 29, 2021
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Kevin Durant Also Injured, Thursday’s Status in Question
In a separate bout of injury news on Brooklyn’s end, Nets star forward Kevin Durant will also be out for some time due to a mild left hamstring strain, as reported by ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Sunday.
The four-time scoring champion is slated to miss his team’s next two games on Monday against the Sacramento Kings and Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns.
Kevin Durant will miss at least the next two games with a left hamstring strain, the Nets say.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 15, 2021
Fortunately, Nets head coach Steve Nash revealed on Monday that Durant’s ailing hamstring doesn’t appear to be a long-term injury.
If true, Durant could still potentially play in Thursday’s blockbuster matchup against LeBron James and the Lakers. While James is still widely viewed as the best player in the league and the leading candidate for Most Valuable Player, Durant is viewed as his biggest rival. The two future Hall of Famers have clashed in the NBA Finals three times to date, with Durant getting the best of James twice while with the Golden State Warriors. He also has two Finals MVP awards to show for it.
Durant’s former Warriors teammate and Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green previously had some strong words about Durant’s performance against James in the 2017 NBA Finals.
“We win a championship, Kevin wins Finals MVP. He f******, in my opinion, he got the best of ‘Bron that series. Like Kevin was f****** rocking,” Green said during an appearance on Showtime’s All The Smoke last April. “After that, that was kind of that moment of like, ‘Damn, Kevin should be the best player in the NBA now because of what he just did to LeBron.'”
Nets Have to Be Cautious With Durant’s Injury
Thursday’s potential NBA Finals preview is a marquee matchup for the Nets. Naturally, “KD” will be chomping at the bit to play because he is a competitor. However, Nash and the Nets’ medical staff have to use professional discretion to decide if Durant is 100% healthy. The Warriors jumped the gun in the 2019 Finals and it ended up costing Durant 18 months of his career.
Nash has spoken in the past about how the Nets are managing both Durant and teammate Kyrie Irving’s workloads while protecting them from themselves.
“I would say there’s no plan in place, but it’s probably unlikely that they both play 72 games,” Nash told reporters in December, via CBS Sports. It’s been such a layoff for both of them, and in particular, Kevin with coming off one of the toughest injuries to deal with as a basketball player. We have to be very careful with him and his adaptation process back into the game.
“Perhaps we have to protect him from himself in a way because he brings so much joy and passion to the sport. He’s so eager and hungry after such a long layoff in his prime. He’s done all the hard work, and he’s put himself in this position, and now we have to make sure that it’s a sustainable adaptation and that he’s able to stay the course and play the long game.”
The bottom line for both the Nets and the Lakers is that neither team should be in a rush to play their stars this week. A lot of money has been spent on super-maxing both Durant and Davis respectively. While Thursday’s game is viewed as the biggest game of the season so far, both teams are looking to compete for multiple titles, so they have to consider the long game.