So….yeah. I take one game off for some family time and not only do the Lakers lose to the Nuggets, they lose Anthony Davis to injury — reportedly a re-aggravation of his achilles tendinosis and a calf strain. AD will be out for several weeks, and maybe longer per sourced reporting.
Obviously, none of this is ideal. And while I’ll have more AD’s injury later (probably on our next LFR Podcast and in something written), the games go on. No one is going to weep for the Lakers, if anything they’re licking their chops. There’s nothing most teams (particularly in the West) would love more than for the Lakers to experience some prolonged struggles that see them drop games and fall in the standings.
It’s the Lakers job, then, to do the opposite. For all the issues the team has had of late (and they’ve had plenty), they built a team with depth in order to power through missing guys. Of course, AD is not just a regular guy. When at his best he’s one of the top handful of players in the league. AD has not been his best this season, but he’s still played at an All-Star level and losing him will hurt. As they say, though, next man up.
Tonight vs. the Timberwolves,1And this will be true most nights, honestly. that next man isn’t going to be filled by just one player, but very likely a combination of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Markieff Morris. All three will have their hands full defensively, particularly should they find Karl Anthony-Towns as their matchup defensively.
KAT is back from his positive COVID test and has resembled his old self as a scorer. His shot volume hasn’t been what it’s been in season’s past, but his efficiency has been great from both two and three-point range. I expect Marc to get the early assignment here, but with KAT’s ability to stretch the floor, finding a rangier defender who can both track him around the arc while still having the bulk to battle him in the post is ideal. My guess is that Trez and Keef will see a fair amount of minutes on him, but we’ll see what direction Vogel goes in.
As far as the other matchups to look for, with D’Angelo Russell out tonight, two scoring threats to track from the Wolves are Malik Beasley and #1 overall pick from this past draft Anthony Edwards. Beasley has been very good scoring the ball all season, pouring in 21 points a night. But it’s Edwards who has come on of late, with only a single game under 18 points in his last 5 contests. Edwards is a big wing whose ability off the dribble and shot creation skills in general really pop when he’s in a groove. With KAT drawing so much defensive attention, the Lakers cannot allow both Edwards and Beasley to have big nights as well…unless they want to lose.
Offensively, we’re officially at “the Lakers 3-point shooting is a problem” and I’m not sure what to say about this beyond it’s time for these guys to hit shots. KCP, Wes, Dennis, Kuz, Keef…the Lakers have guys who can make the defense pay when left open, but until they actually do the lane will be clogged and the team’s overall offense will suffer severely.
It’s very difficult to trade 2’s for 3’s as often as the Lakers have been doing and it’s not just the Nuggets game that this was a problem. At some point, the open shots the team is getting have to be converted. If for no other reason than to give Bron some much needed cushion to not have to do as much offensively every night. And there’s no better time to start than tonight vs. the Timberwolves, especially with AD out.
Where you can watch: 5:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet.