Anthony Davis is set to return to the floor for the first time since February 14, though the Los Angeles Lakers will be carefully watching his every move—and minute.
Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters Davis will start Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks but play no more than 15 minutes and be held out of the second half.
Davis has been away from the court to nurse Achilles and calf injuries that flared up back-to-back.
That Davis is on a minutes restriction isn't much of a surprise.
As badly as the Lakers would like to have their All-Star forward at full intensity and make a run for home-court advantage in the postseason, it would be irresponsible to do so if it's going to result in another stint in street clothes.
Instead, carefully monitoring his return and ensuring Davis is fully healthy before the postseason will remain the most crucial task for the defending champions.
After the shortest offseason in NBA history, and suffering through a rash of injuries still afflicting the likes of LeBron James, Markieff Morris, Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol and Andre Drummond, there's no sense in trying to turn Davis' first game back into an inflection point—not when the long-term health of one of the most irreplaceable big men in the NBA is at stake.
If Davis is able to play a full 15 minutes without any setbacks and they leave Dallas with the W, the Lakers can celebrate the fact that they regained one-half of their All-NBA tandem and only sit two-and-a-half games behind the Denver Nuggets for the fourth seed in the West.