The Los Angeles Lakers were battling for the NBA's best record back on Valentine's Day, which was the last time that All-Star Anthony Davis played in a game. On Thursday in Dallas in a potential Western Conference playoff preview, Davis is expected to return – albeit likely for only about 15 minutes of game time. The Mavs, meanwhile, could sit former All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis in the second of a back-to-back. Dallas is -2 on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds.
Entering that Feb. 14 game in Denver, the Lakers were on a seven-game winning streak and were 21-6. Davis went down with an injury in the Mile High City and L.A. lost – the team has since gone 14-16 without him, although LeBron James has missed a large chunk of that time as well. James is not close to returning.
Los Angeles now sits fifth in the West at 35-23 and has no shot of earning a top-three seed. Getting to fourth and home-court advantage in the first round is possible but not overly likely. The key is not to fall below sixth and have to compete in the play-in tournament.
Coach Frank Vogel said Davis would be limited to approximately 15 minutes in the first couple of games back but that AD will start. The 28-year-old is averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 blocks per game – he was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Dallas is seventh in the West and thus clearly motivated to move up at least one spot to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Coach Rick Carlisle usually rests Porzingis – but not Luka Doncic – in the second of a back-to-back as the "Unicorn" has bad knees and had offseason surgery. The Mavs beat visiting Detroit on Wednesday 127-117 to snap a four-game home losing streak. Porzingis had 19 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes, while Doncic was an assist shy of another triple-double.
The Lakers have won three straight in this series, each by double digits. The clubs have met just once this season, way back on Christmas when L.A. rolled 138-115 behind 28 points from Davis and 22 points and 10 assists from James. Doncic had 27 for Dallas, while Porzingis had yet to debut this season because of that surgery.
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