LeBron James will miss the Lakers’ game against the Sixers with left knee soreness, the team announced Wednesday afternoon. James has continued to deal with soreness in that knee throughout the season, though Wednesday is the first game he would miss since March 7 and only the second game since February 5.
With Anthony Davis sidelined with his own foot sprain, James’ production has proven to be extra vital as the team has attempted to stay afloat in the race for a play-in game. After a pair of wins in their last three games and a recent loss from the Pelicans, the Lakers have a one-game lead for the ninth seed in the conference.
However, Wednesday’s contest was always going to be a tough one for a Lakers team well under .500 still. While that may not have factored into James’ availability, by not playing on against the Sixers, James now will have an unexpected extended rest for his knee.
With the Lakers having last played on Monday against Cleveland, James missing Wednesday’s game and the Lakers not playing again until Sunday means he will have nearly a week off to rest that knee, an unusually long time in-season. And considering that game on Sunday comes against the aforementioned Pelicans and will prove to be a vital one in the race for the play-in games, having James available in that one will be crucial.
The degree to which any of that played into the decision to not have him play on Wednesday is unclear, especially since LeBron has long advocated against managing minutes and resting. Every game is important for the Lakers with the margins as narrow as they are in the play-in race.
More than anything, it robs fans of seeing two of the scoring leaders this season in James and Joel Embiid squaring off against one another. James also missed the Lakers’ game earlier this season in Philadelphia with knee soreness.
For the sake of the rest of the Lakers season and potential postseason hopes, let’s hope Wednesday is another simple one-game absence from the lineup.