How LeBron James’ injury affects Trail Blazers’ postseason chances

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is set to miss 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

James injured the ankle Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. After receiving multiple opinions, the Lakers now expect LeBron to miss a significant portion of the remaining regular season.

The Lakers are among a group of teams – a group that includes the Portland Trail Blazers – fighting for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs, or at the very least a spot in the play-in tournament.

With the NBA’s all-time leading scorer now sidelined, what happens to Portland’s postseason odds?

The Trail Blazers chances for a spot in the play-in received a boost with LeBron’s injury

After Portland missed a golden opportunity to move up the standings by blowing a 23-point lead to the Warriors on Feb. 28, the Trail Blazers fell to 29-32, but remain just a half-game back of the New Orleans Pelicans for the final play-in spot.

The West standings are so bunched up that only four games separate the fourth-place Phoenix Suns and the 12th-place Lakers as of March 1. It will be a fight to the finish in the last five weeks of the regular season. At least two of which, now, LA will be missing James.

The Lakers were building momentum, having won four of their last five games after re-shaping their roster at the trade deadline. That momentum has taken a giant halt.

The Utah Jazz – currently ninth in the West – remain afloat, but dealt away Mike Conley Jr., Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt at the deadline.

The eighth-place Minnesota Timberwolves are still without Karl-Anthony Towns; the Warriors, currently fifth in the West, are still missing Stephen Curry.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, currently 13th but only one game behind the Trail Blazers, are playing sans Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder may be more interested in another lottery pick this year than a spot in the postseason, anyway.

Next. Damian Lillard sent his teammates a message before historic 71-point game. dark

With Damian Lillard doing everything he can to drag Portland to at least a play-in berth, another injury to a West competitor – the most significant one yet – could push the postseason door just another inch ajar for the Blazers.