LeBron James Prioritizes Health Over Playoff Ambitions

The Lakers Currently Hold a Play-In Position with Nine Games Left in the Season

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With nine games remaining, the Los Angeles Lakers are now 41-32 and ranked ninth in the Western Conference. They are not quite certain of a playoff seed, but they are currently in a play-in position, barely outside the first-round picture.

LeBron James, however, is already shifting his focus towards the postseason. Despite a challenging start to the season, the Lakers have managed to string together five consecutive victories and have won seven of their last ten games. Impressively, they boast the third-best winning percentage (.750) in the NBA since the beginning of February

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At the age of 39, LeBron James has recognized the importance of managing his workload to maintain his health and performance. This season marks only the second time since 2017-18 that he has played more than 60 games in the regular season. Understanding his significance to the team, James is mindful of both the Lakers’ playoff position and his own well-being, emphasizing the value he brings when he is in optimal condition.

This season is only the second time since 2017-18 that LeBron James has played more than 60 games during the regular season. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

“I got to be smart with it,” James said about focusing on his health over where the Lakers land in the Western Conference playoff picture. “If I’m not healthy, or close to being healthy, then it’s not good for our ballclub anyway. It’s not good for me.”

This season, James has struggled with an ankle issue that kept him out of Tuesday’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. In the team’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, he made a comeback and recorded his fourth triple-double of the year (23 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists).

James and the Lakers are adopting a strategic approach towards his health, especially with the playoffs potentially looming. While James admitted that if their sole focus was climbing up the standings and avoiding the play-in, he might have pushed himself to play on Tuesday. Notably, throughout his illustrious career, James has never missed a playoff game due to ιnjury.

Although the playoffs appear likely for the Lakers, it’s not yet a certainty. However, if they secure a spot, James will be given ample rest. Until then, the Lakers will rely on him to be close to full health on the nights he takes the court to ensure their postseason aspirations.

James emphasized the importance of prioritizing health, not just for himself but for the team as a whole. With a keen awareness of his body’s condition, particularly his ankle, James is committed to maintaining his well-being while striving for success on the court.

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“Obviously, understanding and seeing how my ankle and my foot is feeling,” James said. “But just being very smart about it, obviously. We are where we are, but our health has always been the most important for our ballclub. Not just one individual. But for me looking out for myself when it comes to ιnjury and knowing my foot and knowing my ankle and how it reacts, and how it’s been over the last couple of years, it’s just always keeping a hefty eye on it.”

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