NBA players Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram are on the verge of a comeback

Anthony Davis passes the ball around Brandon Ingram at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Anthony Davis passes the ball around Brandon Ingram at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Picture: Getty Images

Somehow the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans are in different and similar situations at the same time. One of the main characteristics they share is an all-star caliber talent that is about to return to action — Anthony Davis for the Los Angeles Lakers and Brandon Ingram for the Pelicans.

Darvin Ham told the media that Davis (stress fracture) participated in Saturday’s full-contact game — always the highest hurdle NBA players must clear when returning to the floor from injury — and said he looked great. Starting Tuesday night, the Pelicans play three straight games at home, and Ingram (toe injury) is optimistic that he will return to the floor during this part.

Fastseason implications for both teams

The Lakers are currently the 12th seed in the Western Conference and are clinging to postseason hopes with a roster so thin that Austin Reeves’ injury significantly affects their depth. Tuesday, The Lakers traded three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura, and he’s probably their third-best healthy player.

Near the top of the Western Conference is where the Pelicans live, currently owning the fourth seed. Their roster depth is at the bottom of the ocean, with a long list of players who can cause matchup problems. Not only was Ingram injured for extended periods of time, so was Zion Williamson and Herbert Jones was in and out of the lineup all season. However, the Pelicans still avoided falling into the play-in tournament part of the standings.

Although the Pelicans and Lakers are on opposite ends of the postseason spectrum, they are only separated by four games in the standings. Five games separate the Pelicans from the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies.

Who enters the playoffs?

The Lakers have also shown some courage in recent weeks. They battled to keep their season going by winning eight of their last 12 games, including a big one against the Grizzlies that was overshadowed angry Shannon Sharpe and his exquisite blue cardigan. However, several losing streaks still put them multiple games under .500.

Ingram went down on November 30, but the Pelicans still managed to reach the top of the Western Conference standings in mid-December. Williamson went down with a hamstring injury during a Jan. 2 game, and the Pelicans have won three games since then.

Part of the job in the grind of a sport like the NBA is going through stretches when key players miss significant time. Games will be lost, but teams with postseason aspirations must find ways to get out of those stretches without losing too much. So far, these two teams, although they have struggled, have managed to keep themselves from free fall far up the scale.

On Tuesday night, The Lakers are up against a healthy Los Angeles Clippers team, and the Pelicans host the current first-place team in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets. Both teams will continue to compete, but while a win would be great, the best thing that can happen to both teams this week is setting a firm date for when Davis and Ingram can return to the floor.

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