LeBron James is expected to miss back-to-back games against the LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers this week as he rests his injured right ankle, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Discomfort persisted for James over the weekend when he played two games following a six-week absence. He exited Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors and did not play in Monday night’s pivotal 93-89 victory against the Denver Nuggets.
James is averaging 25.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.8 assists while shooting 51.3% this season for the Lakers, who after Monday’s win sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with narrow leads over Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
Injuries to James and fellow All-Star big man Anthony Davis have stalled the Lakers after winning the 2020 NBA championship. James has played in just 43 games this season, with Davis appearing in even fewer (29).
A slide into The Play In-Tournament would put the Lakers in the unprecedented situation of a defending champion being forced to win one of two games in order to make the playoffs (assuming they finish seventh or eighth).
With or without James, the Lakers’ path to the playoffs gets no easier this week with crucial Western Conference games against the Clippers, Blazers, and Suns.