Even though the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be rounding into playoff form, it is hard to evaluate the team as they have been without key players for most of the 2020-21 season.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder have all missed time the past month for various reasons, which has impacted the Lakers’ ability to build any chemistry or continuity. Defensively, Los Angeles has remained at the top of the league, but the lack of familiarity with each other may come back to bite them in the postseason.
Davis was in the midst of a dominant stretch before suffering a groin injury against the New York Knicks. Davis was held out of the game against the Houston Rockets and head coach Frank Vogel explained the decision.
“Anthony obviously woke up with a great deal of soreness in his groin and it just would not be intelligent to play him after playing him 43 minutes last night on the second night of a back-to-back with the playoffs right around the corner, so we made the decision to hold him out,” Vogel said.
However, Vogel did note that Davis’ injury is not serious and he should be back for their next game.
“Definitely consider it minor,” Vogel said. “There’s no injury it’s just really tight. Obviously, with today and two days off from games after today. We have three days for an opportunity to really put that behind him.”
As for James, he was expected to return against Houston but was also ultimately held out. Vogel acknowledged that the team will rest James until he feels ready to come back.
“Bron continues to evaluate his ankle how it’s feeling each day as it responds to the rehab work and it just felt like we’re not quite ready to get back in there,” Vogel said.
The 36-year-old is close to his return though Vogel preached he and the training staff will take the safe approach. “It’s everything,” explained Vogel. “It’s soreness, it’s strengthening, it’s all those types of things. He’s just going to give it a few more days. Just not quite there yet.”
Despite the precaution, Vogel left the door open for James to return for the final two games of the season. “Yeah, there’s a chance,” Vogel said. “But again, we’re literally taking it one day at a time and we’re going to bring him back at the most intelligent time to do so.”
Schroder has chance to play against Pacers
Schroder continues to progress through the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is seemingly on track to return before the end of the season. The 10-14 day timeline for the guard would put him on pace to return against the Indiana Pacers and Vogel said it could happen.
“It’s still a possibility,” admitted Vogel. “It’s all I can really say. It’s still in the early stage that he can return and he can return on that date as of right now. That hasn’t been prolonged, so we’re hopeful he’s able to play in the Indiana [Pacers] game.”
With only two games left in the regular season and the play-in tournament looming, the Lakers getting their three best players back for at least one of those games would go a long way in building some sort of continuity before the start of the postseason.
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