Lakers news: LeBron James, Darvin Ham miss practice ahead of Warriors matchup

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

Update: LeBron James has been confirmed as OUT for the Lakers' game vs the Warriors on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Lakers ended the unofficial first half of the 2023-24 season on a great note. Los Angeles won seven of its last 10 games before the All-Star Break and is now in a position to climb the Western Conference ranks.

Another team that is in a nearly identical situation as the Lakers is the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are one spot below the Lakers in the Western Conference standings are at looking to climb after ending the first half of the season on a hot streak.

There is a good chance that the two teams will be competing for a spot outside of the Play-In Tournament in six weeks, making any matchup between the two teams important. The two teams square off to kick off the second half on Thursday in a game that has more stakes than the usual February Lakers game.

Golden State may already have the advantage over the Lakers as well. Los Angeles was without its two biggest voices, Darvin Ham and LeBron James, on Wednesday a day before the Warriors game. That is never a great sign.

Darvin Ham and LeBron James don't go to practice the day before the Lakers play the Warriors

Ham is making the trip to the Bay Area with the Lakers to coach while LeBron is making the trip and might not play. LeBron is dealing with a lingering ankle injury and if it is in a place where it is not comfortable then he is not going to suit up.

As great as LeBron is, the Lakers have been able to survive this season when he does not play. Anthony Davis has been out of this world and guys like Rui Hachimura have stepped up when the Lakers needed him to. That being said, not having LeBron is still a big deal, especially against a team that LA is directly competing against.

It will also be interesting to see how Ham's absence on Wednesday impacts the game plan on Thursday. This is not high school basketball where the players need more hands-on coaching, but having the two most influential voices away from the team before a big game can have an impact.

Regardless of what the Lakers have to go through, this is a must-win game for the team. This game alone really could end up being the difference between making the playoffs and having to go through the play-in.

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