New champions will be crowned during these 2021 NBA Finals, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost Thursday’s Game 6 in their first round series against the Phoenix Suns, ultimately losing the series 4-2. The first quarter was a perfect encapsulation of this imperfect Lakers season, as we watched Anthony Davis go down after trying to fight through the pain of his groin injury to help the Lakers win. Defeat at the hands of the injury bug. That was what the Lakers suffered all season after 2-3 months of no Davis and no LeBron James due to their respective injuries throughout the season.
Right after the game, LeBron, Davis, and others reflected on the lost season and how injuries derailed it. Frank Vogel chimed in alongside Davis, saying that they think they could have repeated as champions if it were not for the injuries (per Christian Rivas of Silver Screen & Roll and Mike Trudell of the Lakers/Spectrum SportsNet).
AD also thinks the Lakers could have repeated: "When we were healthy and everyone was available, we saw what type of team we could be … we were rolling; we had the pieces; we just couldn't stay healthy."
— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) June 4, 2021
Frank Vogel was asked if he thought the Lakers had what it took to repeat: “I do think we had a group that could repeat (were it not for) the injuries.”
He pointed out that they were 21-6 when AD originally was hurt. Then LeBron, then AD again, plus other starters out.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 4, 2021
LeBron James also shared in that sentiment, as he revealed to Christian Rivas and other reporters that after the game he told Wesley Matthews he was disappointed they never got to see this team at its full potential.
A groin injury can be attributed to wear-and-tear, something Anthony Davis’ body has seen a lot of in the past eight months. The same can be said for the right calf strain that kept him out for nearly three months of the regular season, as the Lakers’ shortened offseason might not have left enough time for their bodies to recover. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spoke about the idea of this, saying they were “two steps behind” all season and that they “didn’t have time to separate the two seasons” (per Lakers Nation).
Well, the Lakers will have a long offseason now after an early first round exit. LeBron has confirmed that he expects his right ankle to return to 100% far before the start of next season with the same to be assumed about Davis’ injuries. With the two both at 100% next season, the Lakers will take another run at it.