How Lakers Can Navigate Playoff Push With LeBron James Out
LeBron James worsened an injury to his right foot on Sunday but finished the game for the Lakers. LA was able to get the comeback win, with James making big plays in the 4th quarter.
After the game, James stated, “I definitely wasn't going to go to the locker room and not finish the game out tonight. Just understood the importance of the game, and then with the momentum that we had, I felt like we could still win after being down.”
James miraculously played through the injury that is now expected to require multiple opinions, sources said, and the Lakers are bracing for his absence to be multiple weeks. https://t.co/zuovQ2wVzc— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2023
James is expected to miss several weeks, which is a devastating blow to a team that was on a three-game win streak and in the midst of a run. The chemistry was clicking, and LA was on full display with the newly constructed roster.
Now, the Lakers must adapt as they push to make it to the playoffs, or at least the play-in tournament.
6 weeks remain in the regular season. 21 games left.— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) February 28, 2023
Here’s the Lakers’ schedule: pic.twitter.com/DDvkloAYaj
The team has great depth, which will be extremely beneficial over these final 21 games. D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Rui Hachimura, and Mo Bamba are all crucial pieces that came over at the trade deadline. Russell is a former All-Star point guard that can take on more while James is out.
Jarred Vanderbilt ( @JVando ) is an X factor for the Lakers🔥 15 points 17 rebounds 4 steals and guarding the best players defensively pic.twitter.com/MTlWEuvSMV— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) February 27, 2023
Vanderbilt is an elite defender, a good rebounder, and makes winning plays. Beasley is a good three-point shooter and scorer. Hachimura can step up and score a little more. Bamba makes an impact as a shot blocker and can space the floor on offense.
However, the biggest factor for this run is going to be the play of their other superstar, Anthony Davis.
Davis is averaging 26/12/3, along with two blocks and 1.1 steals. He is an elite two-way player that can set the tone on both ends of the floor.
Davis proved earlier in the season that he could play at an MVP level, and the Lakers need him to get back to that level.
“I’M A MOTHERFUCKING BUCKET!”— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) February 26, 2023
- Anthony Davis 😈 pic.twitter.com/L9JO1LDuKE
LA is only one game back from the play-in tournament and 2.5 games back from the 6th seed.
The bottom line is that Davis needs to step up his game, be aggressive, and show the world the superstar that he is and propel this team to the playoffs in James’ absence. If Davis does that, paired with the Lakers' depth, they have a shot at making a run and staying afloat until James returns to the lineup.