Update: May 12, 5:00 p.m. — LeBron will not play Wednesday vs. the Rockets. Davis also won’t play. James is planning on returning Saturday vs. the Indiana Pacers. This may be a play by the Lakers to just get James more rest with these games not being as important. There’s a chance the Lakers could avoid the play-in tournament. That would mean they’d have to play the Clippers in the first round most likely. Winning one game against the Warriors and then facing the Suns may be an easier path for the defending champs.
Update: May 12, 1:30 p.m. — James and Davis are both being listed as questionable to play Wednesday vs. the Rockets. LeBron is reportedly expected to return to the lineup but we’ll see what the Lakers say later on.
LeBron James is going to give that right ankle one more day of rest today vs. Knicks -- and target a return on Wednesday vs. Rockets, sources tell @mcten and me.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 11, 2021
Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James is targeting a return to the lineup on Tuesday vs. the New York Knicks, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday morning. James was back in the lineup last weekend for two games before aggravating his high ankle sprain. The Lakers have gone 2-2 since LeBron re-injured himself and are 1.0 game back of the Portland Trail Blazers for 6th place in the West. If the season ended today, L.A. would be fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament.
Update: James is likely to return to the lineup Tuesday vs. the Knicks, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Apparently, James is pain-free from the ankle after resting over the past week.
Much more optimism on state of LeBron James’ right ankle after on-court work Sunday and Monday, sources tell ESPN. James was pain-free after several days off – and able to make hard cuts and elevate. Return on Tuesday vs. Knicks is likely. https://t.co/UTXIC1V0Vh— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 10, 2021
With four games to go in the regular season, the Lakers will have a busy week ahead. Their odds of making it out of the play-in picture appear to be slim. The Dallas Mavericks are now up 2.0 games on them with four games to go. Dallas has a pretty soft schedule in those final four games. The Blazers’ schedule on the other hand is brutal. So the Lakers have a shot if they can get past the Knicks on Tuesday, which won’t be easy.
Avoiding the play-in tournament really just ensures the Lakers play either the Nuggets or Clippers in the first round. It’s not ideal but you’d think it’s a bit better than facing the Jazz or Suns to start off the postseason. We’ll see how healthy LeBron is. Anthony Davis has been fine since returning from his lower-body injuries. Dennis Schroder is out in health and safety protocols and Kyle Kuzma now has a back injury. So the Lakers aren’t in great shape heading into the playoffs to defending their title.