The NBA season is deep into its second half, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.
1) Anthony Davis returns but rust is apparent as Dallas gets win
When a player misses 30 games, rust is expected.
That’s where Anthony Davis was for the Lakers Thursday night. He was back on the court — playing 17 minutes, all in the first half — and most importantly said after the game he wasn’t thinking about his calf or the sore Achilles tendon that had sidelined him since Valentine’s Day.
“I didn’t think about it one time tonight,” Davis said. “Honestly, I just went out there and played. I think it can limit what you do if you’re out there thinking about your injury, so I just went out and played and not think about it. Just go out there and have fun and be excited to be back on the floor, that was my main thing. I was just excited to be back on the floor with the guys, so I never thought about it.”
The Lakers did the right thing sitting Davis for more than nine weeks — he said he felt a ripping and pain in his foot back in February, those are not the kinds of signs a team or player should mess with. Davis needed the time off, not just for this season but for his career.
However, miss that kind of time and rust is to be expected.
Anthony Davis played 17 minutes —all in the 1st half —in his first game since Feb. 14. But it wasn't an ideal return:
– Davis shot 2-10 from the field, tied for his most missed attempts in a half this season.
– On defense, opponents shot 6-for-9 with AD as the primary defender. pic.twitter.com/JqnIS0Dt4e
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 23, 2021
Davis also made a couple of plays that were a reminder of what he can do.
First basket back — of course it’s a mid-range jumper 🔥
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 23, 2021
AD's steal leads to an easy bucket 🔥 pic.twitter.com/L4ZqXTwNkZ
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 23, 2021
Davis was clearly frustrated not to play more, but the Lakers did the right thing thinking big picture on his first night back.
These two teams meet again in a couple of days.
2) Kemba Walker, Boston get win against a clearly tired Suns team
The East Coast road swing the Phoenix Suns have been on clearly caught up with them in Boston — one of the most energized teams in the league just looked flat on the second night of a road back-to-back (they beat the East-leading 76ers the night before).
Boston will take it, especially when Kemba Walker goes off for a season-high 32.
Walker has played his most efficient basketball of late — an above-average 59.5 true shooting percentage in April, with his assists up as well — and that’s a good sign for the Celtics, who need that version of their point guard to make any deep playoff run.
3) Rested Antetokounmpo, Bucks steamroll tired 76ers
This is an important win for Milwaukee in the playoff chase — it is now just 2.5 games back of Brooklyn and Philadelphia for the top spot in the East — but don’t read too much into it as a playoff preview. For the same reason the Suns looked flat in Boston, the 76ers on a back-to-back also looked a step slow against the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 16 rebounds and continued his strong play of late.
Embiid did lead to the note of the night, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com threw cold water on Shaq’s praise of Embiid (Shaq picked him for MVP).
Not judging Jokic vs. Embiid right now, but re: "playing inside"…
Jokic has shot 63.1% in the paint & 63% of his shots have come in the paint.
Embiid: 56.2%, 52%
Adjust for Embiid getting fouled a lot more, but Jokic isn't less of an interior player than Embiid. https://t.co/zX8j1bfCJi
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 22, 2021
These teams play again Saturday. That should be more telling.