(CNN) The Los Angeles Lakers are a roller coaster the season No sign of slowing down.
During the Lakers’ 27-point win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, TV cameras caught LeBron James hearing his foot “pop” as he landed a layup. The 38-year-old was then seen walking slowly game Although able to complete the victory.
With the Lakers seemingly building some momentum with a three-game winning streak, their stars shining and new additions playing their part, James is ready to be sidelined.
Multiple reports suggest the 19-time All-Star could miss several weeks, but await further tests to determine the full extent of the injury.
James posted a photo of the injured leg to his Instagram Story on Monday after it was announced he would miss the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, writing, “Fkn Chucks!!!!”
Another day in ‘Laker Land’ — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
With 21 games remaining, two spots out of a postseason play-in spot — and six points away from automatic qualification for the playoffs — the Lakers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Or will we see those famous yellow and purple uniforms on the business end of the NBA?
For such a storied franchise that was crowned NBA champions two years ago, this season has been one full of questions and not exactly answers.
Heading into the offseason, general manager Rob Belinka completely rotated the team’s roster, despite having superstars like James and Anthony Davis on the books — and limited draft capital thanks largely to the widely criticized trade of Russell Westbrook.
The acquisition of Patrick Beverley in August filled a need, but many pundits believed the Lakers didn’t do enough to put themselves in contention for a title.
Criticism from fans and pundits was even louder because of the limited time James seems to have left at the top as he approaches 40 years old and Belinka’s inability to build a contender around the NBA’s best player.
So the season started as many predicted, with the Lakers winning just two of their first 12 games. On November 12, the Lakers finished 14th in the Western Conference.
To the credit of first-year head coach Darwin Hamm and the team’s leading players, the Lakers dug themselves out of a hole, winning eight of their next 10 games.
But through a combination of injuries, lack of consistency and a skewed roster, the Lakers have struggled to hit the ground running, move up the ranks or show their championship potential.
The midseason trades seemed to address some of the team’s issues of insecurity and shooting from the perimeter — Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba and Davon Reed have all arrived, while Westbrook is finally out.
After Sunday’s win over the Mavericks, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd said Vanderbilt “kicked our a*s.”
Since the two trades on February 9, the team has gone 4-2 and turned its season on its head.
What are the Lakers’ chances in the playoffs?
With only eight teams qualifying for any NBA season through 2020, the Lakers’ chances of competing in the playoffs will seriously diminish.
But a post-season berth is still within the team’s grasp following the introduction of the play-in competition during the bubble season at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The play-in tournament pits the seventh- to 10th-ranked teams in each conference to determine the final two spots in the playoffs. The seventh-seeded team hosts the eighth tournament, with the winner earning the 7th seed in the playoffs.
The ninth-seeded team hosts the 10th-seeded team, with the winner facing the loser of a match between the seventh and eighth seeds. The winner of this game will earn the eighth and final spot in the playoff bracket.
At the time of this writing, the Lakers are currently on a three-game winning streak, have a 29-32 record and sit in 12th place in the Western Conference; A play-in is a game outside the tournament. They are just two and a half games out of sixth place, which would automatically qualify for the playoffs.
According to the website Tankathon It measures the difficulty of a team’s remaining schedule throughout the season, with the Lakers having the fifth-toughest games remaining.
It’s been far from a perfect season for the Lakers so far, but it looks like they might be returning to some form after the All-Star break.
Tied in the win column with the similarly imperfect Portland Trail Blazers, we could very well see James’ injury permitting play-in for the 17-time NBA champion.
Who knows, in a crowded Western Conference, the Lakers could even reach the playoffs using the old-fashioned system.