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Potential Elimination On The Line With LeBron James Out

The Los Angeles Lakers travel to take on the NBA-best Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night and for the first time all year, their season may literally be on the line.

With four games to play, the Lakers currently trail the San Antonio Spurs by two games of the 10th seed in the Western Conference, which is the final spot of the Play-In Tournament.

The Spurs hold the tiebreaker over the Lakers, so their magic number is just two. That means if the Lakers lose to the Suns on Tuesday night and the Spurs beat the Denver Nuggets, then L.A. is officially eliminated from postseason contention.

Unfortunately, as the Lakers get set to take the court on the road against the best team in the NBA, they are without their best player in LeBron James.

James has been dealing with an ankle sprain that forced him to miss Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. The hope was that he would be healthy enough to return against the Suns, but he was ruled out well before tipoff so it doesn’t seem like he was all that close to being able to give it a go.

Even if the Lakers are eliminated from postseason contention, it’s likely that James will return for two of the team’s final three games in order to qualify for the scoring title.

Being without the league’s leading scorer is no easy task for the Lakers against the Suns though, and they will have to rely on others to pick up the slack in his absence.

Chief among those others is Anthony Davis, who recently returned from a foot injury of his own and has played extremely well. In two games, Davis has put up 25.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.

He has not been shy in admitting that he is still not 100% and the foot has been giving him problems though, particularly towards the end of games. As a result, the Lakers have played well for three quarters but have faded in the fourth, resulting in back-to-back losses.

That’s particularly an issue against the Suns as they are the best crunchtime team in the NBA, while the Lakers are among the worst.

That will certainly be something to keep an eye on in this game as the Lakers look to keep playoff hopes alive.

Lakers (31-47) vs. Suns (62-16)

7:30 p.m. PT, April 5, 2022
Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Malik Monk
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Dwight Howard

Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington, D.J. Augustin

Projected Suns Starting Lineup:

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Jae Crowder
C: Deandre Ayton

Key Reserves: Cameron Johnson, JaVale McGee, Cameron Payne, Torrey Craig, Landry Shamet

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