Are Lakers in trouble?

Lakers have a problem. The next three weeks will be without their superstar LeBron James. The all-time point-scorer is out an injury with the tendon in his right foot.

The team physicians are keeping James off the court for the next three weeks pending another evaluation of his injury.

James picked up the injury during the Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks game. He played 37 minutes and helped the team rally from a 27-point deficit to win 111 – 108.

What impact will LeBron James’ injury have on securing a Playoff berth for the Los Angeles Lakers and do the Lakers need to fear the next three weeks without him?

February 7, 2023, Los Angeles, California, USA: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts after scoring against the Oklahoma City Thunder during an NBA basketball game, Tuesday February 7, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Credit Image: © Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press Wire)

Getting a Berth

With the news that James will be out for a period, it’s definitely going to have an impact, particularly seeing as every game now affects Lakers’ route to a Playoff berth.

His absence was felt on Tuesday when the Lakers lost 121 – 109 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Thankfully, they were able to edge past the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 6-point lead (123 – 117).

With James out, let’s take a look at some of the key games that lie ahead.

Minnesota Timberwolves March 3rd

February 28, 2023, Los Angeles, California, USA: Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) drives between Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) and forward Kyle Anderson (5) during an NBA game Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Credit Image: © Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press Wire)

One view on the Lakers vs Timberwolves game would be that the Lakers can take it easy.

The Lakers lead their matchup series with a pretty impressive 43 all-time wins. That’s 83 wins compared to 40 Timberwolves wins.

However, if you look at the series over 2022, it tells a different story and one that Lakers need to be careful with.

Timberwolves won four of the five games in the 2022 series, that’s including the last games of 2021/22 season and the Pre-Season leading into the current one. The score margins also varied from 5 – 20 points.

Timberwolves are currently sat 8th in the Western Conference compared to 11th for the Lakers and they have an Even-Stevens score of 32 wins and 32 losses so far.

Lakers will also have to contend with the likes of the powerhouses of Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Kyle Anderson.

Golden State Warriors March 5th

CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 15: Golden State Warriors Guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts to a play during a NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls on January 15, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Credit Image: © Melissa Tamez/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Here’s another game where the Lakers have plenty of aggregate, 252 wins to 170 for the Warriors.

Of the last eight matchups, five went Lakers way, two of those being comprehensive wins in February.

What of Stephen Curry? At the time of writing, there’s a rumour suggesting that the Warriors could be starting Curry this Sunday in the Lakers game.

The master of the three-pointer has been out with a knee injury since the beginning of February and if he does make a return, it’s going to be a tough one for Lakers.

Memphis Grizzlies March 7th

Memphis Grizzlies centre Steven Adams (4) passes the ball as Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) defends during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

It’ll be the third matchup of the current NBA season and it’ll be difficult. The Lakers narrowly managed to hoop the first game in their favour by just one point (122  – 121).

The second one on March 1st was without the James and it showed. Lakers were defeated by the Grizzlies 121 – 109. Grizzlies Guard Ja Morant was a complete machine, scoring 39 points 10 Rebounds, 10 Assists and 15 Field Goals Made.

If this Guard is back in Jenkins’ lineup for Tuesday night’s matchup, this game is very likely going Grizzlies’ way.

Phoenix Suns March 22nd

CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 04: Brooklyn Nets Forward Kevin Durant (7) looks on during a NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls on January 4, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Credit Image: © Melissa Tamez/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Not only do the Suns have an impressive six game win-streak against the Lakers in 2022, there’s also a new weapon who’s joined the team and is already impressing.

This will be the third matchup between both teams since the new season started with the previous two games going Suns way.

It’s important to know that James was not part of the squad for those games. He was suffering from a Thigh Injury ahead of their first game. The Lakers lost 105 – 115.

He’d be absent for the second game and Lakers would lose again 104 – 130.

Kevin Durant

Suns have got Durant. The former Brooklyn Nets Forward had been suffering from a knee injury over the last two months and was also traded to the Suns during February.

Durant made his debut with the Suns versus Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday. He certainly impressed picking up 22 points, 6 Rebounds, 2 Assists along with 10 Field Goals Made and 15 Attempted.

Chicago Bulls March 26th

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 13: Chicago Bulls Guard Zach LaVine (8) looks on during a NBA game between the Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls on February 13, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Credit Image: © Melissa Tamez/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Hopefully James will be cleared to play by this point because it’ll be the first of two games between the Lakers and Chicago Bulls in the new season, and within a matter of days.

While the Lakers have a healthy 35 win aggregate over the Bulls (111 – 76), this will be a crucial time for the Bulls to aim for a Playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

At the time of writing, the Bulls sit 11th in the conference, just outside the promotion position. Depending on how well they do between March 3rd and this first showdown with the Lakers, they will fight for every point.

If the Lakers physicians clear James to play, the Bulls will have a even bigger challenge.

The Next Three Weeks

With no LeBron James over the next three weeks, which of these games will be the toughest for Lakers? Is there another game we missed that we should highlight?

Posted on: 03 Mar 2023