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What injury to Anthony Davis means for the Lakers in first round vs. Suns

AD’s groin injury in Game 4 could open the door for the Suns to knock off the Lakers in the first round.

Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers grabs his thigh after falling during the first half of Game Four of the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on May 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers entered Sunday hoping to get one step closer to completing a gentleman’s sweep against the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, but one of their stars suffered an injury that could change the course of the series. Anthony Davis suffered a groin injury in the second quarter of Game 4 and did not return.

The Lakers went on to lose 100-92 and the Suns evened things up at 2-2. There’s no telling how much time Davis will miss, but Los Angeles’s odds to come out of the west could drop drastically if he faces a lengthy path to recover. Let’s go over how Davis’s injury could affect the first-round series between the Lakers and Suns.

The Lakers boasted a league-best 106.8 defensive rating during the regular season and have been just as good in the playoffs. Los Angeles’s team defensive rating ranked third among playoff teams at 104.6 through three games of the playoffs. Davis’s defensive rating (107.6) doesn’t illustrate his full impact, and his ability to switch and cover long distances on closeouts helped Los Angeles hold Phoneix 17 points under its season average of points per game through Game 3.

Davis is one of seven players with a defensive rating better than 108 through three games while averaging at least 35 minutes per game. Replacing him with Markieff Morris will be a tremendous downgrade, as the Suns are among the best in the NBA at spacing the floor with outside shots from stretch 4s. Morris has played just 12 minutes through four playoff games.

Now let’s talk about offensive impact. The Lakers averaged nearly 109 points per game during the regular season despite lengthy absences from James and Davis. They’re averaging 100 points per contest against the Suns through four playoff games with both stars playing.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had the worst scoring offense during the regular season with an average of 103.8 points per game, so this isn’t a good sign for Los Angeles. While Davis’s offensive rating (107.4) through Game 3 was nothing spectacular, he still averaged a team-high 27 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest. James and Dennis Schroder are the only other starters averaging more than 12 points per game in the playoffs, so role-players will have to step up in a big way to avoid dropping off even more on offense.

Bettors backed the Lakers at -835 in an overwhelming fashion ahead of Game 4. The public placed 80% of the handle and 64% of the tickets on the reigning champs. The Suns (+500) will likely see their odds improve if Davis misses time and could become on of the best value bets on the market ahead of Game 5.

Chris Paul’s shoulder health is improving and Deandre Ayton is applying a ton of pressure to Lakers bigs by averaging a double-double in the playoffs. The Suns’ chances of holding off Los Angeles have never looked better. If you’re looking for a plus-money wager, taking Phoenix over the Lakers seems like a solid option.