The Cleveland Cavaliers continue their homestand tonight when they host the Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams have scuffled a bit to start the season amidst a slew of injuries, with the Lakers a half-game ahead of the Cavs, 9-7 to 8-7. Both teams expected to have more wins at this juncture.
Unfortunately for both teams, injuries continue to plague them. It's not simply role players, either, although both teams have had their depth severely tested. Donovan Mitchell headlines five Cavaliers on the injury report, while LeBron James is among six names listed for the Lakers.
Who will be playing for both teams tonight?
Will LeBron James play vs the Cavaliers tonight?
Updated: LeBron is ACTIVE for tonight's game
The fact that LeBron James can play NBA basketball at all at this point in his career is impressive; he turns 39 in a month and is somehow averaging 33.8 minutes per game. He still has plenty left in the tank as well, averaging 25.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists as he tries to force the Lakers into the win column. They would be hard-pressed to win without him.
Unfortunately for both the Lakers and Cavaliers fans hoping to see the return of their hometown star, James' status is still up in the air. He is listed as questionable on the Lakers' injury report, and it's possible whether or not he plays will be a game-time decision. We will provide an update here when we have one on LeBron's status.
Will Donovan Mitchell play vs the Lakers tonight?
UPDATE: Donovan Mitchell is expected to play after posting his customary pregame message on X:
On the opposite side of things, Donovan Mitchell has missed the last four games rehabbing a hamstring injury, and he is likewise listed as questionable. Darius Garland has stepped up in Mitchell's absence, guiding the Cavs to a 3-1 record in those four games, but it's without question that the team needs Mitchell back on the court to compete offensively at a high level.
Mitchell did practice yesterday with the team, which is a positive sign that he will either play tonight or be back very soon. We will update this post once more information comes out.
What about the other injured players?
Let's run down the rest of the injury report for both teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without Ricky Rubio (personal) and Ty Jerome (ankle); Jerome hasn't played in their last 13 games and isn't close to a return. Dean Wade will also miss this game after suffering an ankle injury in Tuesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and it's unclear how much time he will miss overall.
Isaac Okoro, who has missed nine-straight games with a knee injury, is questionable to play and did practice in some capacity on Friday. His return would help to fill some of the defensive void left by Wade's absence.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis is listed on the injury report with hip spasms that have bothered him for most of the season, but he is expected to play. The same can't be said for the rest of their forward rotation; Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura have already been rules out, and Cam Reddish is questionable with a groin injury (and most likely won't go). Gabe Vincent is their only guard on the report, and he remains out with a knee injury that has kept him out for nearly the entire season.
The Cavaliers haven't had a full complement of players at any point this season, and their preferred starting lineup has only been together in six of their 15 games. Will they be somewhat whole tonight? And will they be facing LeBron James in what may be his last game in Cleveland? Those are important questions for an important game.