NBA

Lakers star LeBron James targets Celtics return but still rated 'day to day'

By Sports Desk November 18, 2021

LeBron James hopes to return for the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Boston Celtics on Friday but is still rated as "day to day" by head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers were toppled 109-102 by defending NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to fall to 8-8 for the season.

It also means they are 4-6 for games this season in which they have been without superstar James, who has missed eight in a row and 10 of 16 overall with an abdominal strain.

When leaving the Fiserv Forum after the loss to the Bucks, James was asked by ESPN if he would be back against the Celtics, to which he replied: "I hope, I hope."

Having James back would be a timely boost to a star-studded Lakers side that has yet to gel this season. In 54 regular-season games played in Boston, James averages 28.9 points. Only in Cleveland, where he has averaged 29.1 points in 17 games as an opposing player, does he have a better average.

James was put through his paces by Lakers assistant Phil Handy prior to Wednesday's game and was seen stretching out his abdomen on several occasions.

With James in the team, the Lakers are 4-2 even though his 24.8 points per game is his lowest return since averaging 20.9 as a rookie, while his 5.5 rebounds are the least since that same season and 7.0 assists his worst return since 2015-16.

 

When asked about James' potential return, Vogel said: "I was hoping he was going to play each of the last seven games or whatever it's been since he's been out. 

"I always hope he's going to play. I'm always optimistic. He's still day to day. No decisions are made."

Vogel said any conditions that need to be met for James to come back will be left to the Lakers' medical team.

"I'll leave that to the medical team," he added. "I know he did some work today. I haven't gotten the reports on how that went yet. 

"But I'll leave that between him and the medical team to make the decision of when he's ready to go."

James' team-mate Anthony Davis believes injuries have been a disrupting factor for the Lakers through the first part of the season.

"We put a team together and we haven't seen it yet," he said. 

"Once we get everybody back, we can kind of see, to be honest. Until then, just got to fight with what we got."

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