Lakers' Anthony Davis 'Should Be Good to Go' vs. Blazers Despite Back, Ankle Injuries

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 7, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 03: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after blocking a shot by Facundo Campazzo #7 of the Denver Nuggets to win 93-89 at Staples Center on May 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he expects to play in Friday's road game against the Portland Trail Blazers despite leaving Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after playing just nine minutes because of a back injury.

"The ankle is fine," Davis, who missed over two months with calf and Achilles injuries before returning in late April, told reporters. "... Back locked up pretty bad. See how it is tomorrow. Should be good to go tomorrow based on how it's feeling now."

He added: "Tomorrow's probably the biggest game left of these games."

The Lakers and Blazers sport identical 37-29 records ahead of Friday's clash. The winner will take over sole possession of sixth place in the Western Conference, the final guaranteed spot in the playoffs. The Nos. 7 through 10 seeds will have to take part in a play-in tournament.

With only six games remaining for both teams, the head-to-head battle could very well decide which team earns direct entry to the postseason.

Davis explained the Lakers "don't want to go that route" in regard to the play-in tournament, but he doesn't think it would mark an automatic end to their title defense if it happens.

"I mean, we don't look at it as something bad," Davis said. "To be honest, we need a lot of games. We need games to get back accustomed to each other, anyway."

Teammate Kyle Kuzma didn't shy away from the importance of Friday's game, though.

"I think we've just got to win the game, for real, for real," he said.

Los Angeles also remains without LeBron James after he returned from a high-ankle sprain to play a pair of games, losses to the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, before heading back to the sideline with the same injury.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported Thursday that James hopes to return next week, but the regular season ends next weekend, so that could be too late in the race for the No. 6 seed.

The biggest question is whether the Lakers will ever return to full strength to have a realistic shot at going for back-to-back titles.

James and Davis have missed significant portions of the season's second half, and point guard Dennis Schroder is currently in the NBA's COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols. They're also the team's three highest scorers this season.