The Lakers announced that LeBron James will not play in Thursday night's game against the Houston Rockets due to a sore groin.
James' absence seems mostly precautionary, as the Lakers have already locked up the top seed in the Western Conference heading to the playoffs. If the Lakers are hoping to compete for a championship, they will need to be at full strength to overcome the Clippers, Bucks, and whatever other teams they may need to face in the playoffs.
However, Los Angeles is still trying to rediscover their groove, having already lost to the Thunder and Raptors. James has fallen below his normal expectations on offense in the four bubble games, failing to score more than 22 points in any of his games.
The Rockets will be relieved to not have to face LeBron, as they are currently trying to move up from the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. They are currently tied with Oklahoma City in the standings and are only a half-game behind the Utah Jazz, who hold the No. 4 seed. The Rockets are currently slated to face the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
James has averaged 25.7 points, a league-leading 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds this season while helping make the Lakers a top contender in the Western Conference. Fortunately, even without James, the Lakers still have one of the top talents in the NBA, as Anthony Davis has averaged 26.5 points and 9.3 rebounds a game in his first season in Los Angeles.