Anthony Davis Issues Strong Statement on Lakers’ Playoff Push

Anthony Davis

Getty Anthony Davis

The Los Angeles Lakers have 23 games left in the season and Anthony Davis believes “each game is a must-win game.”

“I think each game is a must-win game for us, given the situation that we’re in,” Davis told reporters on February 22. “So they’re all pretty important and we got to treat each game that way. Look at it as a Game 7 game. If we go out and compete on both ends of the floor and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll give ourselves a pretty good chance.”

The Lakers are in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. Davis and Co. are two games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 10th seed and 3.5 games back of the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth spot. The top six seeds in the conference automatically qualify for the playoffs, while teams 7-10 make the play-in tournament.

The purple and gold revamped their roster at the trade deadline, parting ways with Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Los Angeles acquired Mo Bamba, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Davon Reed.

“I mean, we have to help ourselves first and foremost and we only do that by winning games,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told reporters on February 22. “We’ve already put ourselves behind the eight ball enough. We don’t want to get into a further situation where we’re depending on teams in front of us to lose games and all the while we’re dropping games. So winning is the focus and it’s the only way we can help ourselves and take care of what we can control.”

Bleacher Report Thinks the Lakers Will Make the Playoffs

In a February 20 story called “Bold Predictions for the Rest of the 2022-23 NBA Season,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote that the new-look Lakers would make the playoffs.

“Los Angeles is just two games out of the play-in tournament, needing to leapfrog both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz and at least one of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans,” Swartz wrote. “From there, the Lakers would need to win twice as a No. 9 or 10 seed, or just once as the No. 7 or 8 seed, to officially get in. While the pre-deadline Lakers may not have had a chance, this team is far different. We saw this in a pre-All-Star break 120-102 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, one where newcomers like D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt were already in the starting lineup. While the defense looked stout, perhaps the best sign for Los Angeles was that James was needed for just 29 total minutes and didn’t even have a great night (21 total points, 0-of-5 from three, four turnovers). With so much help now surrounding James and Anthony Davis, both superstars can save some energy for the play-in tournament, one where they’d be one of the most talented teams to ever take part. The Lakers will make the play-in tournament, win and eventually reach the playoffs.”

Lakers superstar LeBron James said during All-Star weekend that the second half of the season would be “23 of the most important games” of his storied career. Los Angeles missed the playoffs last season and lost in the first round of the 2021 postseason.

“It’s 23 of the most important games of my career, for a regular season,” James said. “It’s the type of mindset that I have, and I hope the guys will have, coming back off the break. I want to make a push to make the playoffs. I don’t want to see myself not being part of the postseason for two years straight. It’s just not part of my DNA. We’re sitting up here talking about the [scoring] record and things of that nature, and that’s all cool, but I’m more passionate about trying to make the postseason and give ourselves a chance to compete for another Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s just who I am. That’s what I’m cut from.”

Anthony Davis Wants to Stay With the Lakers: Report

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told Dan Patrick on the February 17 episode of “The Dan Patrick Show” that Davis is “100 percent bought in” on remaining with the Lakers. AD signed a five-year, $190 million contract with Los Angeles in December 2020. The deal includes an early termination option in 2024 and will be fully up in 2025. Davis has the same agent (Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group) as James.

“While I admit there might be something amiss there, I don’t think Anthony Davis wants to not be a Laker,” Windhorst said. “My understanding is he still is 100 percent bought in on that.”

Davis, who helped the Lakers win the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat, didn’t stand up on the bench and celebrate after James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The Chicago native also deactivated his Instagram account. After the Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 9, Davis said his body language during the 133-130 loss to the Thunder on February 7 had everything to do with losing and nothing to do with James’ record-setting night.

“It’s about the game,” Davis said. “I mean, we’re losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game we needed, and I was pissed off that we were losing. It’s that simple. It’s nothing that has to do with Bron. He knows that. Everybody else is outside looking in, it’s their opinion, but I was pissed off that we were losing the game.”

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