The NBA playoffs are currently a secondary consideration as the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers return to the court on Saturday for Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series near Orlando.
The Lakers and Trail Blazers didn't play Wednesday as part of the day's three-game boycott that began when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their postseason game against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks took action due to Sunday's shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., located 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
The season rocked in the balance on Wednesday night and again on Thursday as strong emotional opinions were aired on whether to continue the playoffs.
Lakers big man Anthony Davis said the social-justice activities will continue as players are irate that Black people continue to be shot or killed by white police officers.
"We want justice for Jacob Blake," Davis told reporters of the 29-year-old who is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down. "The good thing is that he is stable and survived but it's unacceptable. We're continuing to talk and try to find justice for him and everyone else who has been a victim.
"For us, it's continuing to push the envelope on every situation on social justice, and it doesn't stop."
Forward LeBron James has been highly outspoken on social-justice issues and he expressed his feelings on Twitter on Thursday.
"Change doesn't happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!" James wrote.
When the players hit the court, the Lakers will be intent on finishing off the series with the Trail Blazers. Los Angeles owns a 3-1 lead.
Portland won the opener but has lost the last three contests, including an uncompetitive 135-115 loss on Monday.
Worse for the Trail Blazers is that star guard Damian Lillard has left the "bubble" and returned to Portland to have his sprained right knee examined.
Lillard twice scored 34 points in the series, including Game 3 when he played with a dislocated left index finger.
Missing a five-time All-Star isn't the optimum situation for a team that will be sent home with another loss.
"Not good," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters earlier in the week. "It's a tough position against a good team. We'll regroup, it's one game at a time, you can break out all the cliches. But we know what we're up against when you're down to a good team 3-1. So we've got to battle."
CJ McCollum, who is averaging 20 points and 5.8 rebounds in the series, will be asked to be the lead man. Gary Trent Jr. will likely move into a starting backcourt spot for a team that will also hope veteran forward Carmelo Anthony steps up.
The 6-foot-5 Trent has been assigned to guard the bigger James on occasion and he said he is enjoying the responsibility.
"Competing, talking a little bit, doing what I do, anything I can do to affect the game," Trent said of defending James. "It's been a great thing, it's a fun thing so far. Continue to grow and get better for it game by game."
Meanwhile, the Lakers aren't about to take the Trail Blazers lightly even if Lillard is over 3,000 miles away.
James is well aware that a closeout game isn't easy to win.
"The team that you're playing is desperate and they're going to give you everything they got because they know they can be sent home," James said. "So I have to come in with that same desperate mindset. That's always been my psyche going into a close-out game."
Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo could make his first appearance since the season resumed in late July. Rondo recovered from a broken right thumb and was cleared to play prior to Game 3 before being scratched due to back spasms that also caused him to miss Game 4.
--Field Level Media
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News Breaking News
Los Angeles Lakers
- Groinday-to-day | questionable
Waiters has soreness in his left groin, and it is unclear if it will impede his status for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
- AnkleProb Sat | probable
Davis has a left ankle sprain, but it is anticipated that he will suit up against the Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
- WristProb Sat | probable
Caruso is battling a sore right wrist, but is likely to be in the lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Nuggets.
- FingerProb Sat | probable
Green is managing a hyperextended left ring finger, but it is projected that he will take the court for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Nuggets.
- GroinProb Thurs | probable
James is anticipated to take the floor in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals versus the Nuggets despite an ongoing sore right groin.
- WristProb Thurs | probable
Caruso is expected to play against the Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals despite right wrist soreness.
- FingerProb Thurs | probable
Green is battling a volar plate injury in his left finger but is likely to take on the Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
- GroinProb Tues | probable
James is expected to suit up against the Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals despite a sore right groin.