Have you ever seen a defending champion have luck this rotten?
The Los Angeles Lakers will once again be without their leader and best player, superstar LeBron James, after the King tweaked his existing ankle issue in Sunday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, a tweak that will keep him out until at least Saturday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
LeBron suffered a ghastly ankle injury way back on March 20th when an Atlanta Hawks defender fell on his leg, forcing the joint into a very unnatural turn. He missed the subsequent 20 games, the longest absence of his professional basketball career, which began 18 years ago in 2003.
His target return date had been the start of May for most of his time on the sidelines, and sure enough, he made his long-awaited return a day early, on April 30th. He played 32 minutes in a loss during which he contributed just 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and five turnovers.
After that game, the King said that he had felt a bit of tightness in the ankle afterwards. While he didn’t physically look limited in that loss to the Sacramento Kings—one of the worst teams in the league who were also without their best player—the results during his return were far from ideal.
The Lakers once again looked awful on Sunday with the King in there against the Raptors, who, interestingly enough, have won all five of their meetings with James since he joined the Lakers after allowing the King a 41-10 record against them while he was in Cleveland and Miami.
But clearly, James was not ready for his return, because with about seven minutes remaining in the game and the Lakers down, their leader disappeared, never to be seen again on the night. He again had five turnovers in the contest and clearly was not feeling right.
The team is now calling it ankle soreness, and after sitting out Monday’s win over the Denver Nuggets, he will also miss the team’s back-to-back on Thursday and Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively.
You would think that those are two matchups that the Lakers absolutely need the King for, but after losses to the Raptors and Kings with LeBron and a win against the Nuggets without him, good luck predicting what this team will do next.
They will also continue to be without point guard Dennis Schroder, who is expected to miss significant time in the health and safety protocols. Based purely on LeBron’s track record—he has reached the finals the last nine straight seasons in which his team has made the postseason—the team remains second on 10Bet’s NBA odds table, with +500 odds to win the NBA championship behind only the Brooklyn Nets.
We wouldn’t say that betting on the Lakers to go all the way is a bad bet, because betting against LeBron to make it all the way has generally not been a good bet, but if you must make a wager, we’d suggest keeping it to the more predictable Eastern Conference, where the Nets are pretty sure to slice through the competition.
LeBron has been ruled until at least Saturday, so his status after that, say, for their Sunday matchup with the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns or their Tuesday night matchup with the playoff-bound New York Knicks, remains murky.
Considering the Lakers have the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers after that tough four-game stretch, you’d think that the King couldn’t have gone down at a worse time. But, like we said—and as the results show—this Lakers team has been the epitome of unpredictable of late