Time is running out on the Los Angeles Lakers if they want to qualify for the Play-In Tournament as they have just seven games remaining going into Thursday’s contest with the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers currently hold a slim lead over the San Antonio Spurs for 10th place, but L.A.’s schedule to finish out if much more difficult.
Additionally, wins have been hard to come by in recent weeks for the Lakers as they have been playing without Anthony Davis and also LeBron James recently.
Davis hasn’t played since Feb. 16 due to a midfoot sprain, while James missed the recent loss to the Dallas Mavericks after suffering an ankle sprain against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The expectation is that both players will sit out Thursday’s game against the Jazz, with James already heading back to L.A. to get some more treatment on his ankle.
They may not miss much more time after that though as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that both James and Davis are targeting returns on Friday against the Pelicans in the second of the back-to-back:
As Anthony Davis — out since Feb. 16 with a foot sprain — progresses toward a game-time decision vs. New Orleans on Friday, LeBron James is hopeful to test out his ankle sprain and try to make a return to the lineup too, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 31, 2022
Davis returning Friday was then confirmed by Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Lakers star Anthony Davis plans to return Friday vs. the Pelicans, barring setback, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Davis has been sidelined since Feb. 14 due to mid-foot sprain. Big Lakers-Pelicans game with Play-In ramifications.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 31, 2022
While both players will likely officially be game-time decisions and test out their respective injuries pregame to see if they can go, the fact that it’s even a possibility that the Lakers have James and Davis in the lineup is a good sign.
It seems that Davis has been targeting this return date for a while now, so he is probably more likely to play than James, who wouldn’t be 100% but has made a career out of playing through pain.
One thing that the Lakers have to make sure of is that James and Davis are not risking further injury if they do try to play. While the Lakers still have hopes of making a run this season and need both of their stars to do so, it’s not worth potentially risking more serious injury by coming back too soon to battle for the 10th seed.
Nunn to miss remainder of season
The Lakers’ other injured player, Kendrick Nunn, has been rehabbing a bone bruise in his knee all season in hopes of a late-season return. It does not look like that will be the case though as he is reportedly expected to continue his rehab into the offseason, playing zero games in his first season with the Lakers.
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