Update: May 6, 5:00 p.m. — LeBron will remain out of the lineup for longer than expected, per Shams. James is out at least the next three games, which includes Thursday night vs. the Clippers, Friday vs. the Blazers and Sunday vs. the Suns. This is brutal and will hurt the Lakers’ chances of avoiding the play-in tournament. Right now, the Lakers are in the 6th seed in the West but are only 0.5 games up on Portland. L.A. is basically playing playoff games the rest of the way and could be missed LeBron for most of them.
Update: May 4, 4:00 p.m. — James is expected to miss at least two more games to rest his ankle injury, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday afternoon. James was held out of the Lakers’ win over the Nuggets on Monday night. As a precaution, the team will keep LeBron sidelined through Friday, so he’s not expected to play against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers.
Lakers star LeBron James is expected to miss back-to back games on Thursday (Clippers) and Friday (Blazers) to rest his right ankle, sources tell ESPN. James will proceed cautiously with ankle injury as playoffs approach.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 4, 2021
The Lakers weren’t expected to compete much against the Nuggets on Monday and pulled off a win thanks to some tight defense. If that continues to be a theme with James sidelined, there’s a chance the Lakers can avoid the play-in tournament. The game against the Blazers will be key. Portland enters Tuesday 1.0 game behind the Lakers for 5th place in the West.
You’ve got to wonder if this is going to become an issue past the regular season. James wasn’t rushed back really, so he should be going through the motions of working his way back. The aggravation of the ankle could end up being a snag in the Lakers’ hopes to repeat as champions. Or LeBron will be fine for the postseason and they’ll go on a deep run. That isn’t the sense we’re getting right now, but it’s still likely.
Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James will not play in Monday night’s game vs. the Denver Nuggets with the team on the second leg of a back-to-back set to start the week, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported. The Lakers lost to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night and James ended up playing 28 minutes, scoring 19 points with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. LeBron’s status for the Lakers’ game Thursday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers is also in question. James has played two games since missing over a month due to high ankle sprain. He re-aggravated his ankle injury in Sunday’s loss.
Update: The Lakers officially listed LeBron as out on the afternoon injury report.
The Nuggets have won five in a row and enter Monday in 3rd place in the West. This is a big game for the Lakers (36-28), who have dropped to the 6-seed in the conference and are tied with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. A loss on Monday and the Lakers could be in the play-in tournament picture rather than having a secure seed in 6th place.
In terms of fantasy, the Lakers will need Anthony Davis ($9,700) to step up tonight in a tough spot. AD hasn’t really taken over a game since returning from lower-body injuries back at the end of April. He’s failed to reach 30+ points and score more than 51 DKFP in a game since returning. Dennis Schroder (health protocols) is also sidelined for the Lakers. With James and Schroder out, L.A. doesn’t really have much depth at PG. Alex Caruso ($3,000) would almost have to play 30+ minutes in the back court unless the Lakers let Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,900) and/or Wesley Matthews ($3,000) handle the ball.
Prior to this news, the line was Nuggets -3.5. Chances are that will move a few points with James being out and there will still be a ton of value in Denver. The Nuggets could easily beat this Lakers team by double-digits. The last time these two teams played in Denver, the Nuggets came away with an easy win with LeBron James healthy and Schroder also in there.