Can the Lakers reach the play-in without LeBron? Why L.A. is better equipped than you think

Can the Los Angeles Lakers make it to the play-in if LeBron James is out with a right hamstring injury?

The Lakers announced Thursday that James will be re-examined about three weeks after he missed the last two games with an injury. This timeline ties James’ return to late March at best as the end of the regular season approaches.

With 19 games left, the Lakers are 11th in the Western Conference, one game behind the New Orleans Pelicans in last place to play.

James’ injury sustained during a promising road win over the Dallas Mavericks likely ended realistic hopes of avoiding the play-in by moving up to the sixth seed.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t see the Lakers in the playoffs at all. By building up their roster by the trade deadline, will the Lakers be able to make the play-in, or at least continue to challenge for him while James heals?

Consider the cases of optimism and pessimism about their chances.


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