The effect of LeBron James’ injury: How Lakers, Western Conference standings and Play-In picture are impacted

At least for the next few weeks, the Lakers will have to adjust to life without LeBron James.

Amidst LA’s comeback win over Dallas on Sunday, February 26, James went down with an apparent foot injury. Apparently in pain, the 38-year-old somehow ended the game only for the injury to later be deemed severe enough to sideline him indefinitely.

The Lakers’ late-season aspirations to get into the play-in tournament and NBA playoffs picture are no secret, but even before James’ injury, the team had a razor-thin margin of error to make that happen.

It’s no secret that James’ absence will have repercussions for the Lakers, but when you widen the lens to snap a snap of the muddled Western Conference, there’s more at play.

MORE: What we know about LeBron James’ foot injury and time that may have been missed

The impact of LeBron James’ injury on…

The Lakers

For the past two seasons, this Lakers team’s success has been based largely on its two stars – James and Anthony Davis – playing at an elite level and the supporting cast performing their respective roles.

When a star goes down, things would usually go wrong.

With the addition of Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt at the close of trade, the LA roster is much better equipped to play for a star temporarily – everyone just needs to move up.

The Sporting News’ Kyle Irving recently outlined ways Davis – and the supporting cast – can rise, a group that also includes Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder.

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With LA looking to wait on James’ injury, the aforementioned group’s ability to strengthen and keep the team in the running for a playoff spot will likely have an impact on whether James comes or not does not return to the ground unless released to do so.

MORE: LeBron James injury puts pressure on Anthony Davis to step up

The playoff picture

At the time of James’ injury, the Lakers held a 29-32 record. As unflattering as that mark is, it’s enough for LA to be in the hunt — just 3.5 games separate the fourth-place Suns and 12th-place Lakers.

While teams like the Suns and Clippers are likely to create a split in the standings, the Lakers could find themselves in an eight-team battle for seeded spots six through ten, which is the last seeded spot in the Play-In tournament.

A look at the rankings can paint the picture far better than any description ever could.

(Through the games played on February 27th)

seed team Record games back
1. nuggets 43-19
2. grizzlies 36-23 5.5
3. kings 35-25 7
4. to sunbathe 33-29 10
5. clippers 33-30 10.5
6. outsider 32-30 11
7. warrior 31-30 11.5
8th. jazz 31-31 12
9. wood wolves 31-32 12.5
10 pelicans 30-32 13
11. Trailblazer 29-31 13
12. lakers 29-32 13.5
13. thunder 28-32 14

Lakers schedule 2022-23

James went down on LA’s schedule with 21 games remaining. Of those 21 games, 12 are against teams that could potentially catch the Lakers in standings, depending on how you view the Clippers and Suns.

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And while the Lakers would certainly prefer James if they do, there’s something to be said for how much of their own destiny they control with the number of head-to-head matches they can win and win in standings Earn a tiebreaker.

If LA really wants to reach the postseason, it needs to treat every remaining game with a postseason-like intensity.

Date Opponent time (ET) TV channel
February 28th at grizzlies 19:30 o’clock TNT
1st March at thunder 8 p.m
3 March against timber wolves 10:30 p.m
5. March against warriors 3:30 p.m ABC
7th March against grizzlies 22 O `clock TNT
March 10th against raptors 22 O `clock NBA TV
March 12th against curtsy 21 clock ESPN
the 14th of March at pelicans 8 p.m
March, 15 at rockets 8 p.m
17. March against mavericks 10:30 p.m NBA TV
19th March against magic 9:30 p.m
March 22 against suns 22 O `clock ESPN
March 24th against thunder 10:30 p.m
26th of March against cops 3:30 p.m
March 29th at Bulls 8 p.m
March 31 with the timber wolves 8 p.m NBA TV
2nd of April at rockets 19 o’clock
4. April at jazz 21 clock
April 5th at Clippers 22 O `clock ESPN
7th of April against suns 10:30 p.m NBA TV
9th April against jazz 3:30 p.m

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