As the Los Angeles Lakers prepare to battle the Phoenix Suns in round one of the NBA playoffs Sunday, all eyes are on LeBron James and the status of his ankle.
James initially went down with an ankle sprain in late March against the Atlanta Hawks, and he wouldn’t return until the last day in April when the Lakers took on the Sacramento Kings.
James would play the Toronto Raptors a few days after but admitted he wasn’t sure if he’d be 100% ever again.
The 18-year veteran would sit out more games until the final weekend of the regular season when Los Angeles faced the Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans on a back-to-back.
He had a slight scare on the ankle when he tweaked it after falling to the floor during a 360-layup attempt, but he explained after the game that it wasn’t anything serious.
James played 35 minutes in the Lakers’ win over the Golden State Warriors, the second-most minutes on L.A. trailing only Anthony Davis’ 42 minutes.
The Lakers have some much-needed days off before they face Phoenix, and James explained how his ankle feels heading into game one.
It’s no secret the Lakers need a healthy LeBron to have the best shot at repeating as NBA champions, and seeing optimism in his health is a promising sign for their chances.
The Suns ended the regular season with the sixth-best defensive rating in the NBA, so James will need to produce in bunches as he usually does; he can’t do that unless his ankle is feeling good.