Posted on: February 28, 2023, 09:08h.
Last updated on: February 28, 2023, 11:19h.
Los Angeles Lakers all-star forward LeBron James sustained a right foot injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night, which could jeopardize the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs.
The noncontact injury occurred in the third quarter against the Mavs. That’s when James said he heard a “pop” and fell to the court.
The Lakers defeated the Mavs, 111-108, during a thrilling comeback victory on the road. James’ injury put a huge damper on the mood in the locker room.
The Lakers revealed that James has right foot soreness and will miss Tuesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The team didn’t provide a timetable for his return.
Shams Charania from The Athletic reported that James is out indefinitely, and expected to miss multiple weeks with the foot injury. However, every game counts, with the Lakers on the Western Conference postseason bubble and only 21 games remaining.
The Lakers are currently +3000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. The Lakers were +2200 odds over the weekend. But the injury to James created an instant correction in the NBA futures market.
LeBron: Record-Setting Year Could End on Injury List
James set the NBA’s all-time regular season scoring record when he passed former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar prior to the All-Star break. At the time, the Lakers had a losing record and found themselves on the playoff bubble. The team was flirting with the possibility of missing the postseason, but at least James’ pursuit of the scoring record kept fans engaged and watching every game.
Once James broke the record, the ravenous media and fans refocused their attention on the trade deadline and the future of disgruntled point guard Russell Westbrook. The Lakers finally found a trade partner for Westbrook, and acquired several new players in a three-team trade that also involved the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers were active at the trade deadline, adding six key players who would log significant minutes, including point guard D’Angelo Russell, shooting guard Malik Beasley, and forward Rui Hachimura.
With the Lakers in the thick of the playoff hunt, die-hard fans had something to look forward to in the final quarter of the season. There are 10 teams clogging up the Western Conference playoff standings. Even though the Lakers are in the tail end of this cluster, they had a chance to qualify for the Play-In Tournament if they could quickly mesh as a team.
The new hope lasted for a week, before James was spotted limping off the court on Sunday.
James leads the Lakers with 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game this season. He shot 30.8% from 3-point range, which marked his lowest shooting percentage since his rookie season.
On Deck: Easy Schedule, but the Grizzlies Twice
The Lakers are 29-32 and currently in 12th place in the Western Conference standings. Ten teams – beginning with the Phoenix Suns in fourth place and ending with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 13th place – are within four games of each other. The Lakers are currently less than one game out of 10th place, and well within reach of the Western Conference Play-In Tournament.
FiveThirtyEight predicts the Lakers will finish the season with a 41-41 record and have a 50% chance of qualifying for the postseason. Projections from FiveThirtyEight also suggest the Lakers have a 4% chance of advancing to the 2023 NBA Finals and less than a 2% chance to win the championship. Those numbers reflect the raw data based on the remaining schedule with a healthy James.
With 21 games remaining, the Lakers face the fifth-easiest schedule. Their opponents have a .479 winning percentage. They face the last-place Houston Rockets on two more occasions, plus they play the faltering Oklahoma City Thunder twice more.
The Lakers play seven tough games against the Memphis Grizzlies (twice), Phoenix Suns (twice), Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and the red-hot New York Knicks.
The Lakers are finishing up a short road trip, but play back-to-back games this week. They square off against the Grizzlies on Tuesday night in Memphis before flying to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder on Wednesday.
Without James in the lineup, the Lakers are +9 road underdogs tonight against the Grizzlies.
The Lakers return to L.A. for a five-game homestand that begins this weekend against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. The Toronto Raptors, Grizzlies, and Knicks also visit the Lakers during this stretch.