It looks like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James will get to play in at least one more regular-season game before postseason play gets underway. After missing the past six games as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, James is expected to return to action Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, per Yahoo's Chris Haynes. James tweeted earlier this week that he's "getting close" to a return.
James was a full participant in practice on Monday and reportedly felt no pain in his ankle over the past few days, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. James returned to the court on April 30 following a 20-game absence due to the ankle injury, but after playing in two games -- the second of which he exited early -- he went back on the injury list as he was dealing with soreness in the same ankle that caused him to miss significant time.
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The Lakers have been extra cautious with James' injury, as they'll want him at full strength when the playoffs start next week. However, in LeBron's absence, the Lakers have slipped in the standings. Los Angeles remains in the play-in tournament portion of the West standings as the team now sits in seventh place with a game separating them and the sixth-seeded Dallas Mavericks. Both teams have two games remaining. As the seventh seed in the West, the Lakers would have to go through the play-in tournament to secure a playoff seed before even reaching the postseason.
Playing extra games before the playoffs isn't ideal for a team that's already dealing with injured players, and James has already expressed his distaste for the tournament, stating that whoever came up with the idea should be fired," James said of the play-in tournament. "You've got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That's corny." James may not like the idea, but having to qualify via the play-in tournament is a reality for the Lakers now.