The Lakers could be forced to stabilize their precarious position in the playoffs without the services of their best player.
LeBron James did not play in Monday night’s decisive 93-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets with pain in his right ankle. Going forward, the Lakers superstar will be “hand to mouth” after the injury continued in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James didn’t suffer a setback with his ankle last night against Toronto, but Frank Vogel said they decided to hold him back for the 2nd night in a row. LeBron said the ankle was sore in the second half of both games and he’s moving forward day to day.
– Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 4, 2021
James is averaging 25.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists while shooting 51.3% this season for the Lakers, who, after Monday’s win, sit fifth in the Western Conference with a narrow lead over Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
Injuries to James and fellow All-Star Anthony Davis have stranded the Lakers after winning the 2020 NBA Championship. James has only appeared in 43 games this season, with Davis appearing in even fewer (29).
A slip into The Play In-Tournament would put the Lakers in the unprecedented position of a defending champion forced to win one of two games in order to make the playoffs (assuming they finish seventh or eighth).
With or without James, the Lakers’ path to the playoffs isn’t any easier this week with crucial Western Conference games against the Clippers, Blazers and Suns.