Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers rejoiced everywhere when LeBron James returned to the lineup this past week. The team had shown excellent resilience in remaining above water without James as well as Anthony Davis, but his return gave many hope that the team would be able to come together before the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the return has been short-lived so far as James left late in the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to the Toronto Raptors and did not return. The team said James was dealing with ankle soreness and he subsequently sat out the Lakers’ victory over the Denver Nuggets.
With a couple of days off until the Lakers’ next game there was hope that James would be healthy enough to return, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, James is expected to sit out the team’s next two games and potentially more:
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is expected to miss back-to-back games against the LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and Friday to rest his injured right ankle, sources told ESPN.
It is possible James could miss more games, sources said, as he works through discomfort in a right ankle that kept him out six weeks until a brief two-game return that included home losses to Toronto and Sacramento over the weekend.
James and the Lakers will continue to evaluate the injury, and proceed cautiously as the Lakers ramp up for the postseason, sources said.
It appears that making hard cuts and explosive movements are what James is currently struggling with due to the ankle:
James has experienced some trouble making hard cuts and exploding since his return from six weeks on the sidelines with the injury, sources said.
This is a tough blow for the Lakers but is in line with what the team has been doing throughout the season. They have always taken every proper step to be sure a player is completely healthy before returning, often holding guys out a little longer just to be extra cautious.
James’ importance to the team can not be overstated, but the Lakers will not risk further damage in order to rush him back. Unfortunately for the team, they are also without point guard Dennis Schroeder due to health and safety protocols so the Lakers’ two top playmakers are out for the time being.
In their absence, it will be up to the likes of Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker and Marc Gasol to take on a bigger role in terms of creating for the team. And of course, more pressure will be on Davis to continue to play at the level he showed against the Nuggets.
This has been a season of moving parts for the Lakers and this won’t make things any easier. But they will surely take a healthy LeBron in the playoffs above anything else.
James believes Lakers’ championship pedigree will give them advantage
Due to all of the injuries the team has suffered this season, as well as integrating many new pieces, the Lakers have struggled to develop that chemistry that was so important a season ago.
But even without that, James believes this Lakers team has players who know what it takes to win a championship and that will serve them well. “Knowing how to make a run, know how to handle adversity. We know we can always hang our hat on that,” he said.
“Whether it results in wins, that’s for us. The game is played between the four lines, not on experience or on paper and things of that nature. We got to go out and do it, too. You can always go back and use some of those for sometimes when you feel like can I do this or can I not.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!