The Lakers may be forced to steady their tenuous playoff position without the services of their best player.
LeBron James did not play in Monday night’s pivotal 93-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets due to a sore right ankle. Moving forward, the Lakers superstar will be “day to day” after the injury persisted during Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James did not suffer a setback with his ankle last night against Toronto, but Frank Vogel said they decided to hold him out for this 2nd night of a back to back. LeBron said the ankle was sore in the 2nd half of both games, and he’s day-to-day moving forward.
— 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 in fifth place in the Western Conference with narrow leads over Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
Injuries to James and fellow All-Star big man Anthony Davis have stalled the Lakers after winning the 2020 NBA championship. James has played in just 43 games this season, with Davis appearing in even fewer (29).
A slide into The Play In-Tournament would put the Lakers in the unprecedented situation of a defending champion being 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 gets no easier this week with crucial Western Conference games against the Clippers, Blazers, and Suns.