It's hard to deny that at this point.
On a positive note, Hill's recovery wasn't expected to allow him to see the floor during the series at all. Late last week, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reported that he would not be available for action at all against the Spurs.
The Lakers' reserve center, though, is reportedly eligible to play as early as Wednesday night’s Game 2 in San Antonio, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Lakers had ruled Hill out of the first-round Western Conference playoff series, but Hill has progressed in practices and workouts and believes he can be effective in limited minutes, sources said. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni will use Hill based on game situations, but there's a strong likelihood he'll play for the first time since tearing a muscle in his hip on Jan. 6.
No, Hill’s return may not be a catalyst for a shocking turn of events in the Western Conference playoffs. However, he will give the Lake Show a boost in their frontcourt that will allow them to be more competitive in their best-of-seven opening-round matchup.
Without Hill, the Lakers have leaned too heavily on Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard in the playing-time department. Gasol recorded 43 and Howard accrued 41 minutes during the team’s Game 1 loss to the Spurs.
The key with the versatile 6’10” big man’s return is that he can step in and ease that burden on both Gasol and Howard. Hill can give them both a breather without the Lakers losing too much in terms of productivity on the floor.
During the regular season, Hill averaged 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per contest. In one game against the Spurs, he was a strong interior presence for L.A., recording eight points, six boards and three blocks in 18 minutes of action.
Ultimately, Hill can be a spark for the Lakers off of the bench. His return may not be enough for the team to shock the world without Bryant on the floor, but it will certainly help the team avoid an embarrassing first-round sweep by the second-seeded Spurs.
Another positive for the Lakers will be the experience Hill draws from his playoffs experience. The big man is surely in the future plans of the team and can take away some valuable knowledge from his playing time during the next few games.
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