LeBron James has been out with a high-ankle sprain since Solomon Hill collided with him in a March 20 game against the Atlanta Hawks. However, by all indications, James is nearing his return to the floor. The initial prognosis called for a four-to-six-week absence, and we are right in the middle of that timeline. James has been almost supernaturally durable during his 18-year NBA career, so it seems unlikely that an injury as pedestrian as an ankle sprain would keep him out much longer.
James himself is making it clear that he's close to returning. On Monday, he shared a video of himself running and taking a layup on Instagram. The caption started with "coming soon to a city near you."
This isn't the first time James has hinted at his own progress. On April 8, he shared another post indicating that both he and Anthony Davis, who was out with a calf injury, were close to full strength. Davis has since returned to the court for the Lakers.
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The Lakers are currently on the road and will play the Orlando Magic Monday and Washington Wizards Wednesday. They then return home Friday for a date with the Sacramento Kings, missing star point guard De'Aaron Fox, before hosting the Raptors. The schedule gets harder from there with home games against the Nuggets, Clippers and Suns and a trip to Portland coming up.
The Lakers would ideally like to have James back and healthy by then, because right now, they are fighting to hold on to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. They have also lost the tiebreaker to the Dallas Mavericks, their top competition for that seed. Falling to No. 6 would mean facing the Clippers or Suns in the first round, while staying at No. 5 would likely ensure a date with the injury-depleted Nuggets.
But with James and Davis healthy, the Lakers believe they can beat anybody. They're the defending champions for a reason, and if James is to be believed, they'll be back to full strength soon enough.