The Los Angeles Lakers’ regular season may not have ended the way the team hoped given the string of injuries, but LeBron James is not lowering his expectations heading into the playoffs. After the Lakers raised their 2020 NBA championship banner, James took to Instagram to reflect on the night and dropped a hint at what may be to come in the postseason.
“They say better late than never right?!?!” James remarked on Instagram. “What a wonderful night this evening was seeing the 17th Championship Banner revealed in Staples along with our #LakerNation 💜💛faithful! Now it’s almost time to defend it once again in hopes of seeing #18 raised as well! LETS GET IT!! 👑”
Despite James’ optimism, the Lakers face long odds to win back-to-back titles. Basketball Reference’s projections give the Lakers a 2.2% chance of reaching the NBA Finals and just .7% odds of winning another championship. FiveThirtyEight’s projections are a bit more bullish on the Lakers giving James and company a 16% chance of making the NBA Finals along with 9% odds of winning the title.
After James’ May 15th return to the court from an ankle injury, the Lakers superstar sent another message by posting a video of his dunk against the Pacers with “#washed” as part of the caption. James has clearly heard the speculation that he will not be the same player in the postseason given his recent injury.
“Time for some get back! #Washed👑 #ThekidfromAKRON🤴🏾 #SFG🚀”
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James Hinted at the Lakers Repeating as Champions: ‘The Road to Back-to-Back Starts in About a Week’
James’ Instagram comments echo what the Lakers superstar said during the team’s banner celebration. The Lakers unveiled their latest championship banner on May 12th as the team wanted to wait until fans were back at the Staples Center to celebrate the occasion. James referred to the upcoming postseason as “the road to back-to-back.”
“We said we would not unveil this banner until we had some of you guys in the seats, so this is your guys’ moment,” James noted, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “We had our ring night; we wanted you guys there, but we wanted to make sure we saved the banner for y’all. So, we love you guys, and the road to back-to-back starts in about a week. So, let’s get going.”
Vogel on James’ Injury: ‘It’s a Challenge to Recover From This Type of Injury’
James returned to the court against the Pacers on May 15 to play in the Lakers’ final two regular-season games ahead of the postseason. Barring some help from the Blazers, the Lakers will end up in the play-in tournament where they will try to win the No. 7 or No. 8 seed to advance to the playoffs. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel admitted that James is dealing with an ankle injury that can tend to linger, which is less than ideal going into the postseason.
“I think we’re all hopeful,” Vogel recently noted prior to James’ return, per Lakers Nation. “We can watch him in the 1-on-0 workout and see him moving well and we can be encouraged by that and we’re all eager to see him out there, but you have to be realistic that this is a high-ankle sprain and things don’t go away quickly. I don’t know what percent he’s going to be at, but it’s a challenge to recover from this type of injury going into important games like we’re going to go into.”