Anthony Davis is on one of the greatest playoff runs in recent NBA history, but it all nearly went up in smoke on Thursday. The Lakers' star appeared to injure his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the 114-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets and writhed in pain on the ground for quite some time. Fortunately, Davis was able to walk it off and remained in the game to help secure the victory for the Lakers. It shouldn't come as a surprise then, to hear Davis say that he is healthy enough to play in Game 5 on Saturday.
"My ankle feels fine," Davis told reporters after Game 4. "I've got tonight, tomorrow, before the game to get it back to where it is, but it's good enough to play. I rolled it pretty bad, but not too bad. I'll be fine."
Having Davis available for Game 5 will be absolutely critical for the Lakers if they hope to finish the Western Conference finals on Saturday. Davis is averaging 28.9 points per game on just under 58 percent shooting in the postseason while playing stellar defense and giving the Lakers 9.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Should the Lakers win the championship, those numbers would be among the best any superstar has ever posted on the way to the title.
But there is a big difference between "fine" and "healthy." The Lakers will have probably have Davis on the floor for Game 5, but if it's a compromised version of him, that puts them in trouble against a Nuggets team that has already overcome two 3-1 deficits this postseason. Davis finished an alley-oop the next trip down the floor for the Lakers after suffering the injury, but only scored on two free-throws after that. His defense remained strong, but whether that will be the case over a full 48 minutes in Game 5 is another question. Without a third star on this roster, the Lakers need both Davis and LeBron James at their best to win the championship.
But given their 3-1 lead, the Lakers have a bit of leeway in how they manage Davis' injury. If they need to limit his minutes at all in Game 5, they could get away with it in ways a tied series wouldn't allow. The Lakers hope he's at full strength on Saturday, but even if he isn't, they have three chances to reach the Finals. They are in good shape moving forward, so long as Davis gets healthy eventually.