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Can the LA Lakers make the NBA playoffs without LeBron James? (Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers)

Can the LA Lakers make the NBA playoffs without LeBron James? Analyzing their chances with 19 games to go

News surfaced this week that NBA superstar LeBron James won't be forced to undergo surgery on his injured foot. Although initial reports indicated that James could be out indefinitely, the latest news was a good sign for the NBA's scoring leader.

According to the team's staff & physicians, James has a tendon injury in his foot that will be reevaluated in three weeks' time. This means "The King's" targeted return date is March 24 at the earliest.

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On March 24, the Lakers will square off against the OKC Thunder, at which point the team will have just nine games left in the season. As the team currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference, it's no secret that it is targeting a run to build momentum for the postseason. With the 31-32 Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans directly ahead of them in the standings, the Lakers are within striking distance.

With that being said, according to Tankathon's Strength of Schedule calculator, the Lakers have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the league. Unfortunately, for the franchise, James' injury isn't the only cause for concern.

With D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis both dealing with injuries, things could get dicey should either man end up suffering a setback. While keeping that in mind, let's take a look at the team's remaining 19 games.

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It's no secret that the LA Lakers need to win games if they are to retain any hope of making the playoffs. With several matchups against teams in their conference, and teams just ahead of them in the standings, the remaining 19 games will determine the Lakers' fate.

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Of those 19 games, nine will come against teams with records at or above .500, while the other 10 will come against teams with sub-.500 records.

The toughest games coming up for the Lakers include their March 7 showdown with the second-place Grizzlies, as well as two showdowns with the Phoenix Suns. The team will also have several pivotal matchups with teams just ahead of them in the standings, including clashes with the Timberwolves, Warriors, and Jazz.

LeBron James Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards)

The easiest games coming up for the Lakers, and the ones the team needs to capitalize on, are the two matchups with the last-place Houston Rockets. They will also face the Orlando Magic once, OKC Thunder once, and the Chicago Bulls twice.

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If LeBron James does in fact return around the three-week mark, over their remaining nine games, they will face just three teams with records at or above .500.

Although they certainly seem to have an uphill battle ahead, the team appears to be headed in the right direction after acquiring D'Angelo Russell. With a little bit of luck in regards to injuries, they'll be able to move up from 11th place and secure a spot in the postseason.

Above you can see some highlights from their recent win over the OKC Thunder despite LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D'Angelo Russell sitting out.

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