Davis is being listed as day-to-day after injuring his groin in Game 4 on Sunday. The team did not have an official diagnosis but said the seven-time All-Star forward is going through further medical testing.
James has been good since returning from his ankle injury, although he hasn’t churned out any otherworldly performances — by his standard — in the series so far. James is averaging 20.7 points, 9.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds, also adding a pair of steals per game.
If Davis is out, James has no problem carrying more of the load as the Lakers look to defend their title.
“These shoulders were built for a reason,” James said. “So, if it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it. Win, lose or draw, I’m ready for the challenge.”
LeBron James Looking Forward to the Challenge
With the Suns winning Game 4, the series is now tied 2-2 as the teams head back to Phoenix.
“The best teacher in life is experience,” James said. “Me, personally, I look forward to the challenge. However the hand is dealt, I’ll be ready to play.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was on the opposite sideline of James back when he coached in Indiana. He saw during that time that an expanded role for James could spell bad news for the opposition.
“When I competed against the Miami Heat, and either [Dwyane] Wade or [Chris] Bosh was out, that meant more touches for Bron,” Vogel said. “And that wasn’t always a good thing for my Pacers teams.”
It’s clearly a glass-half-full approach from Vogel, who is hoping his 36-year-old superstar fresh off a serious injury can carry the Lakers past the Suns. He’s getting stronger in each game that goes by, plays like his explosive ally-oop with Alex Caruso in Game 4 serving as evidence of that.
But he’ll need the Lakers role players to step up and the shots to start falling. The Lakers have not shot better than 32% from beyond the arc in a game during the series.
Marc Gasol Confident in Lakers Without LeBron James
There will be more minutes to go around in the rotation without Davis in the lineup, with Marc Gasol among the players who could see more run. Gasol played 23 minutes off the bench on Sunday, scoring 12 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and grabbing 3 blocks. He was one of just the Lakers to finish with a positive plus-minus.
“Obviously you miss a guy like AD, you center a lot of the offense around him, but I’m sorry, to me that’s not enough,” Gasol told reporters after the loss, per Silver Screen & Roll. “To me we have to have a ‘next man up mentality.’ I know that sounds cliche, but that’s the truth. We’ve still got to execute whatever we’re doing on the floor defensively, offensively, take more control of the game, dominate physically, communicate. All the little things that go by, possession by possession, that you need to do to win playoff games.”
Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday, with the Suns opening up as 4.5-point favorites, per Odds Shark.