On Monday night, the Lakers picked up a much-needed win over the Denver Nuggets to move back out of the play-in and into the 5-seed in the West with seven games to play. What made that win even more impressive was that it came without LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, as Anthony Davis stepped up for his best performance since returning to action two weeks ago.
The Lakers are still in a precarious position with regards to seeding in the West, and their next two games with the Clippers on Thursday and the Blazers on Friday (in Portland) will be very important. When James left Sunday’s loss to Toronto in the mid-fourth due to an aggravation of his right ankle sprain, there wasn’t much known about a timetable for his return, but it appears that his absence will linger much longer than just taking off Monday night.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, James is not expected to play in the Lakers upcoming back-to-back as he and the Lakers remain cautious with his health.
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
It is already a difficult back-to-back, but being without James (and Schröder who remains in health and safety protocols and could miss the rest of the regular season) will make the task even harder for L.A. to hold on to their position above the play-in. The Blazers game in particular is crucial, as that will determine the tiebreaker between the two teams, with L.A. currently just one game up on Portland.