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Anthony Davis’ Rusty Return Against Mavs

The last time Anthony Davis touched the floor happened to be Valentines Day before injuring his calf on a Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets. Now after spending three months on the sideline, Anthony finally got see some action on the court. However, it wasn’t what the type of performance we’re accustomed to seeing out of Anthony. Instead it was subpar for his standard, but that’s normal after missing 30 games.

Coach Frank Vogel’s plan was to play Davis for 17 minutes and only in the first half. In those 17 minutes, Davis put up four points and four rebounds on two out of 10 shooting from the field. Vogel’s concern for Davis was getting back to game form. Due to the pandemic and health and safety protocols, there aren’t as many practices as before. As a result, Vogel is using game time as practices for certain situations.

“Great to be back in that Lakers uniform and on the floor for us,” Vogel said. “Had a little bit of rust but I think he played extremely well… Any time you get a player of his caliber there’s gong to be an adjustment period for the guys around him, not just with him. I fell like we saw that in the first half but that’s apart of what we have to go through in this last stretch.”

Offensively

Offensively, Davis looked a little shaky at first. He relied on his jumper multiple times throughout the game to get a feel for his body. Six out of his 10 attempts came via the jump shot, whether it was in the post or spot up. This is expected especially after missing a significant amount of time. The Lakers didn’t push the note to get Davis going, instead it was more of finding his rhythm. It wasn’t until the 4:50 mark in the first quarter where Davis finally scratched on a side step jump shot.

Seeing that AD still was getting used to playing again, the Dallas Mavericks put Dorian Finney-Smith on him to begin the second quarter. To which didn’t go so well as Davis spun off of Finney-Smith for an easy basket. Following this, the Mavs sent double teams towards Davis in fear of him getting into a rhythm. However, Davis is a much better passer since joining the Lakers and was finding the open teammate after the second defender came.

“I felt fine, my wind felt better than i expected,” Davis told media on his feeling of his performance. “I got good looks, I missed. Obviously that comes with time and get those game reps. But I felt good out there, I felt really good. Did some things to give the team some juice, came out with a great start. It’s tough when you’re able to play and then you have to watch the whole second half without being able to contribute.”

Defensively

The main focus on defense for Anthony Davis was to not expose him to a lot fo movement. As a result, Vogel had AD match up on Finney-Smith. The reason for this is because Finney-Smith camps in the corner for spot up threes with an occasional cut. This a smart idea, especially in Anthony’s first game back. If things were normal and AD wasn’t coming off injury, most likely he would match up against Porzingis or Luka as he is the Lakers best defender.

However, Davis still found ways to find an impact on defense for the Lakers. A prime example is in the beginning of the first quarter where Davis picked off Luka Doncic’s pass, converting it to a KCP lay up. Davis made Luka think that he was dropping down for the help but instead, Davis baited Luka into the pass to the corner to which Davis intercepted.

In this video Davis recovers quickly to block Kristaps Porzingis’ shot. Standing at 7 foot 3 and a high release point on his shot, it is already difficult to block Porzingis. After missing the last 30 games, Davis looked like his normal self here. Notice how Porzingis made Davis bite on the pump fake. Coming off an injury as Davis did, this isn’t the ideal position to be in. This is because it’s forcing you to push pressure on the leg in order to recover on defense. Instead Davis looked flawless and was able to block Porzingis with ease. It’s the little things such as this you have to notice.

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