Anthony Davis hasn't played for the Los Angeles Lakers since Valentine's Day, but his return appears to be imminent. While speaking with media members on Wednesday, Davis revealed that he plans to play against the Mavericks in Dallas on Thursday night as long as he continues to feel well, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. Lakers coach Frank Vogel echoed Davis' comments on Monday, saying he'd play in Dallas as long as he continues to feel good.
While Davis is ready to play, the team will ease him back into action as Vogel said the big man will be on a 15-minute restriction upon his return to game action. Davis has been sidelined with a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis, and the initial prognosis called for him to return around the All-Star break, but the Lakers have exercised an abundance of caution with their superstar. Given their compressed schedule this season, Davis' health record and the preponderance of injuries around the league, they have held Davis out longer than expected and accepted the hit in the standings even with LeBron James sidelined as well.
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On top of declaring himself healthy, Davis also provided some more detail into the serious calf strain he's been dealing with. He told McMenamin he experienced a "ripping" sensation when he planted his foot in the game against Denver in February, and that he was initially worried that he had torn his Achilles. Luckily for him and the Lakers, that wasn't the case.
It took a little longer than expected, but Davis' return is obviously great news for a Lakers team looking to return to full health before the start of postseason play. The Lakers have dropped to fifth in the West without the services of Davis or James, who is still sidelined indefinitely with an ankle sprain, and they have a pivotal pair of games coming up against the Mavericks. Dallas is currently No. 7 in the Western Conference and trails the Lakers by four games in the standings. If the Lakers want to avoid the play-in round of the postseason, winning at least one of those games will be critical. Having Davis available will certainly help their cause.
Davis' return is obviously huge, but the Lakers are still far from full strength. They won't look like themselves again until James returns from his high ankle sprain, and even then, both of their stars will need time to ramp back up. But the defending champions are finally starting to turn a corner when it comes to their health, and that should terrify the rest of the Western Conference.