The Los Angeles Lakers will host the New York Knicks in Staples Center on Tuesday night in a meeting with serious playoff implications. However, the defending champs will still be shorthanded as LeBron James will sit out for another game.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, James plans to give his right ankle another day of rest by sitting out of tonight’s match-up with the Knicks. Instead, the 36-year-old will try to return on Wednesday when the Lakers play host to the inexperienced Houston Rockets.
The latest report contradicts those from earlier this week that James would be able to play on Tuesday, but it’s likely that he just wants to play it safe before the start of the postseason. With a return on Wednesday, the 17-time All Star will still get to suit up for three more regular season games before the Lakers set their sights on the playoffs.
When James has been on the court in LA this season, he’s continued to be one of the best players in the league. Before sustaining a high ankle sprain on March 20 against the Atlanta Hawks, he was averaging 25.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.
Since he went down with the tricky injury, he’s changed his focus from chasing the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award to getting healthy for another deep postseason run.
LeBron James is going to give that right ankle one more day of rest today vs. Knicks — and target a return on Wednesday vs. Rockets, sources tell @mcten and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 11, 2021
Of course, the Lakers will need to get into the Western Conference playoffs before trying to mount another title run. As of right now, the defending champs hold the No. 7 seed, with a 38-30 record. Without James, the Lakers have won just three of their last 11 games, so will need to close out the regular season strong to gather some momentum for the postseason.
If the season ended today, the Lakers would face the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference play-in tournament. With Steph Curry on the court and just one game to play, anything could happen leaving the 2020 champs on the brink of elimination.
The Lakers will take on the Knicks without James on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. E.T. The game will air on TNT.