When the Los Angeles Lakers announced their starters for Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, they confirmed that Mo Bamba (left ankle soreness) would once again be out, missing his fourth game in a row against the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
Bamba, who previously missed several weeks with a high ankle sprain in the same leg, played just more over 10 minutes total in the first round against the Grizzlies. After checking into Games 1 and 2 for 30 seconds of mop-up duty apiece, Bamba played nine minutes and 10 seconds of garbage time in the closeout Game 6. He was subsequently listed on the injury report for Game 1 of this series as questionable with ankle soreness, a diagnosis he’s had since.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN on Tuesday, Bamba received an injection to treat the soreness before Game 1, and was using a crutch to walk at the team’s shootaround that day:
Lakers backup center Mo Bamba is listed is out for Game 1 against GSW with left ankle soreness. It’s the same ankle that caused him to miss a month late in the regular season. Bamba received an injection to alleviate discomfort in between the first and second rounds, sources told…— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 3, 2023
However, that treatment obviously wasn’t enough to allow him to be available for any of the team’s games so far, even if Bamba — who played just 88 minutes total in the regular season for Los Angeles — figured unlikely to get many minutes in this matchup anyway because his defensive limitations would likely have seen him hunted by the Warriors for every single second he was on the floor.
Still, for as long as he is officially unavailable, the Lakers’ only other backup centers are Wenyen Gabriel and Tristan Thompson, meaning that if Gabriel gets hurt, the Lakers would have to turn more to the Rui Hachimura/LeBron James frontcourt that was destroyed on the glass against Memphis. Those groupings would seem unlikely to do better against ace rebounder Kevon Looney.
I guess they could also play Thompson — as they did in garbage time in Game 2 — but given that he was out of the league until the day before the playoffs even after working out for the Lakers weeks before, that seems unlikely to be a sustainable idea for very long, no matter how much he’s helped them in prepping for this matchup in the film room, or how many times LeBron tells the 32-year-old to stay ready:
. @ChrisBHaynes reports that LeBron told Tristan Thompson to "be prepared to dust the cobwebs off" and play in this series.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 3, 2023
But again, all of this is in the realm of a hypothetical. All we know for now is that Bamba is out for another game, a game he probably wasn’t going to play in anyways. In the grand scheme of things, this should not significantly impact the Lakers in any way barring a catastrophe.
This breaking news story will You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.