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LeBron James injury update: Lakers star to rest ankle vs. Nuggets with LA reeling

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LeBron James injury update: Lakers star to rest ankle vs. Nuggets with LA reeling

LeBron James returned to the court over the weekend for the Lakers after missing 20 consecutive games with an ankle injury. With Los Angeles having lost five of seven games before his return, James was supposed to provide a spark to the lineup and help the reeling Lakers to make up some of the ground that they had lost in the Western Conference standings.

Instead, the Lakers dropped both of the games that they played with James. And against the Raptors, James exited with ankle soreness after 27 minutes of action and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. As a result, he is getting ready for another absence, and it’s just a matter of whether it will be a prolonged one.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that James is going to miss the latter end of a back-to-back on Monday night against the Nuggets while dealing with the ankle problem. However, the more important part of the report is that James’ status for the team’s game on Thursday night is “uncertain.”

That the game against the Clippers comes after two full off days for the Lakers is a positive for James, as he’ll have extra time to get his ankle to full strength. However, James already being deemed “uncertain” for a game that far out certainly isn’t a good thing, and it means that the Lakers are going to be watching James very closely as he attempts to get healthy before the playoffs begin.

MORE: LeBron James bashes NBA’s play-in tournament amid Lakers’ struggles

In addition to James’ absence, the Lakers will also be without guard Dennis Schroeder as he enters the league’s health and safety protocols. Schroeder ranks third on the team with 15.5 points per game and has been a critical part of the team’s rotation with and without James this year.

With just eight contests left in the season, every game counts for the seventh-place Lakers (36-28). They’re looking to avoid having to play in the NBA’s play-in tournament, but if James misses time the Lakers could find themselves locked into the No. 7 seed and being a part of the play-in.

That’s something that James and Co. would like to avoid, but as long as the team’s star is out it will be difficult for them to consistently string together wins. They have just an 8-13 record in 21 games without James so far this season.

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NBA playoff schedule 2021: Full bracket, dates, times, TV channels for play-in, playoff games

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NBA playoff scenarios 2021: Updated playoff picture, seeds ahead of play-in tournament, first round

It hasn’t been an easy NBA season, but the league managed to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and reach the playoff stage.

This year’s postseason will look slightly different with the addition of the play-in tournament, which will expand the field from 16 to 20 total teams. But when it comes down to the playoff bracket, the mission is still the same: Win 16 games, and capture the Larry O’Brien trophy.

NBA STANDINGS: Seeding scenarios, breakdown for playoff spots

Here’s everything you need to know about watching the 2021 NBA playoffs, including TV schedules for play-in and playoff games.

NBA playoff bracket 2021

(NBA)

How to watch NBA playoff games

NBA playoff games will once again be split between ESPN and TNT. First- and second-round games are scattered across both networks. Every NBA Finals game will be shown exclusively on ABC.

The primary outlets for live-streaming 2021 NBA playoff games are Watch ESPN and Watch TNT, both available on desktop and by downloading the mobile apps.

Games on ESPN can also be streamed on fuboTV, which offers a 7-day free trial.

NBA playoff schedule 2021

Note: This section will be updated when first-round matchups are finalized.

May 18

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Hornets vs. Pacers 6:30 p.m. TNT
Wizards vs. Celtics 9 p.m. TNT

May 19

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Spurs vs. Grizzlies 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Warriors vs. West No. 7 10 p.m. ESPN

May 20

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Loser 8 p.m. TNT

May 21

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser TBD ESPN

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Wizards’ Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

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Wizards' Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

The Wizards closed the 2020-21 NBA regular season with a torrid stretch. They were 17-6 in their final 23 games and went from a likely lottery team to a participant in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament.

Washington finished its climb up the standings Sunday. It defeated the Hornets 115-110 to secure eighth place in the Eastern Conference, which is a win-and-in spot in the conference’s four-team tournament.

Under the old playoff format, the Wizards would’ve clinched the No. 8 seed and guaranteed themselves a spot in the posteason with Sunday’s win. They would have started playing for their lives in a seven-game series, not a one- or two-game set.

MORE: Knicks clinch No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference

Wizards coach Scott Brooks saw that as an opportunity to poke fun at the play-in tournament and LeBron James’ recent comments about it.

“I’m with the King,” Brooks said. “Who created this play-in thing? Whoever did that, they need to be fired.”

Seconds later, Brooks affirmed that he was just kidding. He was paraphrasing James’ comments from May 2 when the Lakers star said that “whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”

Unlike James, Brooks thinks the play-in tournament is a net positive for the NBA, despite his team finishing eighth in the East.

MORE: How the play-in tournament works

“I love this [format]. It created so much excitement the last two weeks and, as we all know, any time you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season is great for everyone involved,” Brooks said. “Fans, TV partners, everybody. I love it. Even though we’re not the 8-seed, I still love it.”

The play-in tournament gave fringe playoff teams like the Wizards incentive to compete later into the season. Brooks is right about that. Now, it’s a matter of whether the on-court product will match the late-season chase to make (or avoid) the tournament.

With stars like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis and one of James or Damian Lillard guaranteed to participate in the play-in, there is a good chance it will live up to the hype.

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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani adds to highlight reel with go-ahead HR in 9th off one of MLB’s top closers

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Angels: Albert Pujols release about giving Shohei Ohtani more ABs, moving Jared Walsh to 1B

Matt Barnes was one out away from sealing a Red Sox victory when Angels DH Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box.

It was a mano a mano battle between one of baseball’s best pitchers and the emerging two-way superstar.

Ohtani won the battle.

MORE: Albert Pujols to sign with Dodgers

He hit a monster two-run home run that curled around the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park to give the Angels a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning Sunday. LA went on to win by that score.

Teeing off against Barnes is no easy feat. Before Ohtani batted in the ninth, Barnes had allowed two hits and no runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he was averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had allowed just one home run in 18 appearances. At one point, he had a negative FIP, something that is unheard of. 

But Ohtani managed to get the best of him Sunday and add another highlight to his superb season.

Ohtani’s homer was his 12th in 2021, tying him for the MLB lead with the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger. His 29 RBIs are tied for the Angels’ team lead with Jared Walsh. His .597 slugging percentage is second on the team only to Mike Trout.

Ohtani has been spectacular as a pitcher as well. He has thrown 25 2/3 innings over five outings, with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts per nine.

In short, he is one of the game’s most electric players right now. Barnes knows that.

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