It has been a rough year for the Los Angeles Lakers and their star player LeBron James, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, albeit a dim one.
James has not played since February 26th, missing the last 12 contests for the Lakers with an injury to his right foot. It was initially reported that he would be re-evaluated in three weeks time, and it seems as though the evaluation has given some promising signs.
LeBron James Could Return For Final Week Of Regular Season
It was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and others on Thursday that there is optimism around the Lakers that James will be able to return to action during the final week of the season.
It would be most beneficial for the Lakers. They’re alive in the Western Conference playoff race, but they’re currently on the wrong side of the tightly-packed bubble that is the bottom of the standings.
LeBron James has been out since Feb. 26. The Lakers’ last three regular-season games, all in Los Angeles, are April 5, April 7 and April 9. https://t.co/IsYgljSrnv
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 23, 2023
As it sits on Thursday, Los Angeles currently sits in the 10th seed, making them the final team eligible for the play-in tournament. But there are teams breathing right down their necks. The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans are both a half game back of the Lakers, and could knock Los Angeles all the way down to 12th and out of the picture completely with one night of good results.
But they’re just as close to the teams above them as they are below them. Above the Lakers and in 9th place are the Dallas Mavericks, who have the same record as LA but hold the tiebreaker. The Timberwolves and Thunder are the 7th and 8th seeds, and they are both just a half game up.
Can The Lakers Make A Run In The Western Conference?
Don’t look now, but the Lakers are just a game and a half out of the 6th playoff spot, which would allow them to avoid the play-in tournament completely.
There’s an increasing optimism that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James could return to play “a few” games in the final week of the regular season, sources tell ESPN. James has been out since suffering a right foot tendon injury on February 26. https://t.co/3lYNX6MA2Z
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 23, 2023
That is why a potential return of LeBron James is so important for the Lakers for the final stretch of the regular season. Every game will be important during that final week, and they’ll have a tough final 4 contests, all against Western Conference playoff hopefuls. They’ll travel to play the Jazz and Clippers on back-to-back nights, followed by home games against the Suns and Jazz to close out the year.
The Lakers would simply have to remain afloat until he returns. It shouldn’t be too difficult of a task, as they are playing solid basketball right now and have games against the Bulls, Wolves, and Rockets coming up.
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