When the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at Moda Center, Portland will face LA without its star, LeBron James.
James has been dealing with a high right ankle sprain for much of the season. The ankle injury sidelined him for 20 games before his two-game return on April 30 and May 2 vs. the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors. Since that pair of games, the four-time NBA champion has been resting his ankle.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reports James is not expected to return to the Lakers lineup until next week.
“Sources tell me LeBron James is aiming for return to the Lakers lineup next week,” Charania said. “I’m told the likely return scenario is Tuesday or Wednesday when the Lakers play the Knicks and Rockets at home. The Lakers and James won’t rush his return from this sore right ankle. They’ll make sure that when he does return, he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed James has been ruled out for Friday’s game vs. Portland, adding that he has been away from the team and is not injury related.
He did not travel with the team to Portland.
As of Friday morning, the Blazers are the seventh seed in the Western Conference (37-29) in a theoretical tie with the Lakers as the six-seed, which means they are slated to participate in the play-in for the second-straight season.
However, the Blazers are just a game out of fifth seed in the West, trailing the Lakers and Mavericks who also want to avoid the postseason play-in tournament, if possible.
With James sidelined vs. Portland, the Blazers have a rare opportunity in front of their first game of the season with fans to snag a much-needed victory to get them one step closer to that No. 5 seed. Here’s how they can get there.
The Blazers welcome the Lakers on Friday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports NW, the official home of the Portland Trail Blazers.