Injuries can so drastically change the outcome of playoff series, as was on full display across the league on Sunday. Ja Morant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tyler Herro all exited games with injuries and have question marks over their status to varying degrees.
One team acutely familiar with injuries in recent seasons is the Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After winning a title in the bubble, the majority of the seasons since have filled with injuries and neither star on the floor together.
But — yes, I’m knocking on wood — the Lakers have been healthy heading into the postseason. Darvin Ham spoke before the game and noted neither LeBron nor Davis would have restrictions entering the postseason.
It’s welcome news considering the former only recently rejoined the lineup after an extended injury absence with a torn tendon in his foot. While he may not quite look back to fully 100% yet, there’s nothing holding him back right now.
On The Lowe Post podcast on Monday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN was asked by host Zach Lowe about LeBron’s health and had this encouraging update.
“I think he’s a really good spot. When he came back, obviously four weeks away with a torn tendon in the right foot, the first road trip they were in Houston. There was a timeout in the second quarter and he took off both his sneakers and just looked kind of, you know, to kind of be going through it and I was like ‘Uh oh.’ Like maybe he pushed a little bit too hard, too quickly and this is something that’s going to be a recurring thing. That’s the only time...that I saw any sign of — there’s been some fatigue moments where he’s getting his wind back but that’s not something that concerns me because he’ll continue to get that back but that was the only time that I saw ‘Ok maybe the foot’s still there for him.’”
The Lakers have also built a team around LeBron that doesn’t require him to carry the entire load, which only spells better news for his longevity these playoffs. Unlike basically any other playoff run LeBron has had, the Lakers can take the burden off his shoulders when it comes to winning games, as Austin Reaves showed late in Game 1.
The less that is asked of LeBron, the better for the Lakers. If he can pick and choose the spots where he takes over and dominates, it allows him to note be worn down, it keeps him from potentially reaggravating his injury and it makes the Lakers a more dangerous team since they are not one-dimensional.
And, if LeBron is healthy and worst comes to worst, he can be the safety valve for the team to carry them if needed. The Lakers, generally, are just in a good position early in the playoffs across the board.
And yes, I’m knocking on wood again.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.