Having big man Anthony Davis on the floor was never really in doubt for the Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals, despite the rough-looing ankle injury he suffered late in Game 4, a big Lakers win that put the team up 3-1 in the series.
But who could have expected Davis to be so spry that he was a master of efficiency on the offensive end for L.A. on Saturday night? And who could have expected him, late in the third quarter amidst a strong Denver rally, to sky defensively against athletic rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. and record a blocked shot that should serve as a reminder that Davis just might have deserved the Defensive Player of the Year ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo this season.
The play in question came with 1:35 to go in the third and the Lakers’ lead having been trimmed to seven points:
On further inspection, the play was not only a dazzling one for Davis but should have been an offensive foul on Porter, who clearly pushed off on Davis with his off hand.
Davis Suffered Ankle Injury in Game 4
The ankle injury to Davis came in the fourth quarter against the Nuggets in Game 4, when Davis took a midrange shot and appeared to come down awkwardly. Nuggets forward Paul Millsap was whistled for a foul, though he did not make contact with Davis and was not in his landing space.
There was lingering concern about the ankle around the Lakers, after Game 4 and before Game 5, when Lakers coach Frank Vogel declared Davis, “good to go.”.
“Great toughness,” Vogel said on Thursday. “You could see he was in some pain after that happened. The way he started the game was off the charts. His shot-making was ridiculous and his energy all over the floor.”
Davis said it was likely the ankle would not be 100% going forward, and he did briefly appear to reinjure the ankle when Millsap landed on the ankle after battling for a rebound with Lakers center Dwight Howard with about seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Davis walked off the injury but did appear to limp after that.
Anthony Davis, Lakers, Look to Advance to NBA Finals
The Lakers entered Saturday’s game against Denver with a chance to close out the Nuggets, a team that has already survived six elimination games in the first two rounds of the playoffs as they twice came back from 3-1 series deficits, first against Utah then against the Clippers.
But, as Davis pointed out, the Lakers have twice been in the situation of having a 3-1 lead in their postseason series and were able to close out in Game 5 in both cases.
“You can never be comfortable around this team,” Davis said. “They’ve been around this situation twice, we’ve been in this situation twice. Both teams are familiar with this situation. But this team is not going to go away. Like I said last game, we gotta put them away. They’re going to continue to fight, no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is.”