News broke this week that NBA superstar LeBron James will not be forced to undergo surgery on his injured foot. Though initial reports suggested James could be out indefinitely, the latest news bode well for the NBA’s top scorer.
Following further evaluation by the team’s staff and doctors, James has a tendon injury in his foot which will be re-evaluated in three weeks. With reports emerging Thursday afternoon in the United States, three weeks from now means the king’s target return date is March 24 at the earliest.
On the 24th, the Lakers meet OKC Thunder, which leaves the team with just nine games left in the season. In the meantime, the team will have a tough schedule that will rival some of the toughest teams in the conference.
With the team currently sitting 11th in the Western Conference, it’s no secret they’re aiming for a run to build momentum for the postseason. With the 31-32 Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans right ahead of them overall, the Lakers are within striking distance.
That being said, the Lakers have the second-lightest remaining schedule in the league, according to Tankathon’s Strength of Schedule calculator. Unfortunately for the franchise, James’ injury isn’t the only cause for concern.
With D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis both struggling with injuries, things could get dicey should either suffer a setback. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the team’s remaining 19 games.
Can the LA Lakers make a playoff run in the remaining 19 games without LeBron James?
It’s no secret that the LA Lakers need to win games if they have any hope of making the playoffs. With multiple matchups against teams in their conference and teams just ahead of them overall, the remaining 19 games will determine the fate of the Lakers.
Because of this, nine of those games are played against teams with records of .500 or higher, while the other ten are against teams with records below .500.
Some of the toughest games facing the Lakers include the March 7 showdown with the second-place Grizzlies and two showdowns with the Phoenix Suns. The team will also have several crucial matchups with teams right ahead of them in standings, including clashes with the Timberwolves, Warriors and Jazz.
The easiest games the Lakers have in store for the team to capitalize on are the two matchups with the bottom-ranked Houston Rockets. They will also face Orlando Magic once, OKC Thunder once and Chicago Bulls twice.
If LeBron James does return around the three-week mark, they’ll face just three teams with records of .500 or more in the remaining nine games.
While they certainly appear to have an uphill battle ahead, the team appears to be heading in the right direction after acquiring D’Angelo Russell. If the Lakers play their cards right, they could, with some injury luck, move up from 11th place and earn a postseason spot.
Above are some highlights from their recent win over the OKC Thunder, despite sitting out LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell.