The star power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers will be watching his team from the sidelines for the immediate future.

Anthony Davis reportedly strained his calf in Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. The injury came in the second quarter of the game, when Davis planted his foot awkwardly on Nuggets center Nikola Jokic while driving to the rim. Davis was able to shoot two free throws before limping to the locker room. An MRI on Monday confirmed the calf strain, as well as tendinosis, which caused Davis to miss two games last week. Davis is not expected to suit up prior to the NBA All-Star break, which is from March 5 to March 10.

This injury comes as a major blow to the Lakers, as Davis played a critical role in the Lakers’ run to an NBA championship last season. Without him on the court, the burden will weigh heavily on 36-year-old LeBron James to keep the team afloat. Considering the history of achilles injuries in the NBA, particularly superstar Kevin Durant’s injured achilles that prevented him from seeing the court in 2020, the Lakers may want to be cautious in how soon they ease Davis back into game action. Nevertheless, without Davis in the starting lineup, the door becomes much wider for teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz to sneak by the defending champions in the Western Conference. And in the East, the Brooklyn Nets are more poised than ever to prevent the Lakers from repeating as champions.

That being said, Davis will be back well before the end of the regular season, and as long as he does not aggravate the injury, the Lakers will still be heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals. Although the injury may prevent the Lakers from locking up the No. 1 seed in the West, it is hard to imagine any scenario in which Los Angeles is not playing in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers know that without Davis, the team’s hope for back-to-back titles is nothing but a pipe dream. So Los Angeles will ease Davis back slowly, not worrying about how his absence will affect the regular season standings.

Los Angeles currently holds the No. 2 seed in the West with a 21-7 record. They are two games behind the Jazz and only half a game ahead of the Clippers. Although they would love to secure home court advantage and for the road to the finals to run through the Staples Center, the Lakers know that the priority has to be keeping Davis injury-free for a playoff run. If Los Angeles had to choose between the No. 1 seed (but with a hobbled Davis) or the No. 2 or No. 3 seed (with a healthy and explosive Davis), they would forego home court advantage in order to have their superstar at full strength.

Laker fans may be a bit worried as we gear up for the All-Star break, but the team is in great shape right now. With the second-best record in the NBA, Los Angeles can afford to rest Davis so that he is injury free and firing on all cylinders when the Lakers make their championship run. Not to mention, it is still quite possible that the Lakers finish as the top seed in the West despite Davis’ absence over the next few weeks. Don’t forget that they only trail the Jazz by two games and that this is the same Lakers squad that has five players averaging double-digit points per game. With Davis out, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma will be asked to shoulder a heavier load.

The fight for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference will be a very intriguing battle to watch. Don’t be surprised if the playoff seeding isn’t determined until the final day of the regular season. Get ready for an exciting stretch of competitive play prior to the ultra exciting NBA playoffs. And as long as Davis rejuvenates and is healthy for the postseason, the Lakers will be the team to beat in the West.

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