LeBron James focused on health, not playoff seeding: ‘I have to be smart about it’

Nine games left in the league Los Angeles Lakers‘ season, they were in the 41-32 season Sitting in ninth place They’re currently in the Western Conference qualifying round, just outside the first round, and don’t quite have a firm grasp on playoff seeding.

However, LeBron James is already thinking about the playoffs. After a poor start, the Lakers have won seven straight in their past 10 games and are tied for first in the league. Third highest winning rate Since early February, the four-time MVP is hitting .750. As he gets older, the 39-year-old four-time MVP’s workload eases. This season marks the second time since the 2017-18 season that he has played 60 or more games during the regular season.

With that in mind, James knows where the Lakers are in their playoff chase, but he also understands his body and value to the Lakers when healthy.

"I have to be smart about it," James said Wednesday, via ESPN, about focusing on his health to determine the Lakers’ position in the Western Conference playoffs. “If I’m not healthy, or [anywhere] Close to being healthy then it would not be good for our club anyway. It doesn’t do me any good either. “

james gets stymied due to ankle injury This season, that resulted in him missing Tuesday’s win over milwaukee bucks.He returns against the U.S. on Wednesday memphis grizzlies And achieved his fourth triple-double of the season (23 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists).

This is the “strategic” approach James and the Lakers are taking now that he’s healthy and the playoffs may be on the horizon. He said if the focus was just on moving up the standings and out of the playoff zone, he would likely force himself to play Tuesday night’s game.

As long as his team has made the playoffs, James has never missed a playoff game due to injury in his career.

The playoffs look likely, but not guaranteed for the Lakers. If they lock up a spot, James will get a break. Until then, they need him to be close to 100 percent on his nights on the court to ensure playoff basketball.

“Obviously, knowing and knowing how my ankle and my foot feel,” James said. “But obviously, just being very smart. We’re in the position we’re in right now, but our health has always been the most important thing for our club. .Not just one person. But for me, when it comes to injuries, I take care of myself, know my foot, know my ankle, know how it reacts, and what it’s been like over the past few years, I’ve always been very close Pay attention to it.”

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