NBA Playoff Schedule 2012: Breaking Down Metta World Peace’s Return Scenarios

We know that Metta World Peace will miss only two more games to suspension after today's Game 4 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets.

That doesn't mean we know which game he'll return to.

If this first-round series goes the distance, World Peace would return on Saturday, May 12, when Los Angeles is scheduled to play a possible Game 7 against the Nuggets.

If the Lakers can finish the Nuggets off in Tuesday's Game 5 or or Thursday's Game 6, then Metta would return for either Game 2 or Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder (respectively).

While conventional wisdom suggests the Lakers are better off finishing this series off and preserving their legs for Thunder, there's certainly a case to be made that a six-game series would allow Los Angeles to face Oklahoma City with World Peace in the lineup.

Mike Brown probably won't change his game plan to optimize his unpredictable forward's return date, but there's no doubt that his return will have an impact.

Here are the three scenarios in which World Peace could make his semi-triumphant return (assuming, of course, that the Lakers ultimately prevail against Denver).


Game 7 vs. Denver Nuggets (Saturday, May 12)

While World Peace would get a chance to shake off any rust before facing the Thunder, that's probably not worth putting the rest of the Lakers through another track meet against these up-tempo Nuggets.

Oklahoma City would also wind up with over a week of rest in this scenario, giving the young legs of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden the opportunity to look even younger.

If the Lakers find themselves in a Game 7 against Denver, World Peace may wind up making an important impact in the decisive game. As he got into better game shape over the course of the season, his play improved markedly—World Peace averaged more than 14 points a game in April.

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