The Lakers will have a further uphill challenge in attempting to claw their record back to .500 on Wednesday against the Heat, as the team announced LeBron James would be out with a non-COVID illness. It’s the ninth game of the season LeBron will miss this season, but just the third since Nov. 25.
The previous contests missed were on the second night of back-to-backs which this contest is not. It also comes at a time when LeBron has been playing out of his mind for the Lakers in Anthony Davis’ absence. Since returning on the previously mentioned Nov. 25, LeBron has averaged 31.2 points on 53.8% shooting from the field with 7.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
More specifically, since losing Davis, LeBron has done all he can to keep the Lakers afloat. In eight games, he’s averaging 35.1 points on 58.1% shooting. The Lakers are .500 in that span as they continue to tread water waiting for either a trade or AD’s return.
Without him on Wednesday, the Lakers are going to have quite the uphill battle against the Heat. Miami already bested the Lakers with LeBron last week and certainly offers a tough enough challenge as is.
It’s also frustrating timing for the injury. As noted our preview for Wednesday’s game, this is the beginning of a favorable stretch of games for the next month and could serve as a chance for the Lakers to make a run. Without LeBron, Wednesday’s game is going to be even more daunting and could knock the Lakers further backward in the playoff race.
Heading into the night, the Lakers are 1.5 games out of the play-in race, but level on losses with each of the Thunder, Timberwolves and Jazz. Each game is going to start carrying increasing weight, especially with the Lakers still well under .500, making it all the more impactful to not have LeBron on Wednesday.
The Lakers have a back-to-back this weekend for their next contests, first with a home game against the Hawks before traveling to Sacramento. It’s a tight window for LeBron, specifically with the vagueness of a return timeline for a non-COVID illness.