LeBron James has been playing injured throughout the 2023 postseason. He made it clear after he suffered a foot injury in February that doctors advised season-ending surgery, but instead, he's pressed forward and taken the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals. But in Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets, he suffered yet another scare to his lower body.
Late in the fourth quarter, James blocked a shot by Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon, but he came down on the foot of teammate Anthony Davis and immediately fell to the floor in pain, clutching his left ankle. He remained in the game, but couldn't get the Lakers over the hump as they fell down 2-0 in the series.
After Game 2, James made it clear that he would not be sitting out Game 3. "I'll be ready on Saturday," James told TNT's Chris Haynes. "I just stepped on the foot of AG. Nothing is keeping me from playing." Fortunately for James and the Lakers, the ankle he injured was on his left foot. The injury that he has dealt with since February was to his right foot. That doesn't mean the ankle isn't a cause for concern. It goes without saying that a player is better off with one healthy foot than none. But his right foot is far more vulnerable.
No matter how healthy he is, James will need to be better in Game 3 than he has been in the first two games of this series.
He missed several easy layups and dunks in Game 2 that might have cost the Lakers the win. He is now shooting 0-for-10 from 3-point range against Denver. With most of his teammates struggling as well, the only chance the Lakers have against the Nuggets is with James playing at a superstar level. He hasn't thus far in this series, and it's only going to get harder if he's playing on an injured ankle.