The Los Angeles Lakers are reeling without their best player. LeBron James has missed most of the 2021-22 season, though his return to the court appears to be imminent.

There’s a 50-50 chance that James will play Friday night against the Boston Celtics, ESPN reports. James told ESPN that he hopes to return for the team’s next game, while Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said the superstar remains day-to-day with an abdominal strain.

"I'll leave that to the medical team," Vogel said when asked about what James must do to play. "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 watched from the bench Wednesday as the Milwaukee Bucks beat Los Angeles, 109-102. It was the Lakers’ second straight loss and their third defeat in four games.

L.A. is 4-2 when James plays this season. In games that the four-time MVP has missed, Los Angeles has a 4-6 record. The Lakers have fallen to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, putting them outside of the very early playoff picture.

Without James, the Lakers are dropping games that appeared to be very likely wins.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have beaten Los Angeles twice, including a game in which the Lakers led by 26 points in the third quarter. The Thunder are 4-8 in all other games. Los Angeles also suffered a 24-point loss at the hands of the 5-9 Minnesota Timberwolves.

In his 19th NBA season, James is averaging 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.3 steals in 37.0 minutes per game. James has a plus-8.7 net rating in six games. James was among the top MVP candidates last season before a high ankle sprain in March took him out of the race.

Russell Westbrook is filling up the stat sheet, though his numbers are not translating to wins. The point guard is averaging 5.2 turnovers per game with a minus-11.4 net rating.

Anthony Davis is averaging 23.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. The Lakers have been outscored by 5.6 points per 100 possessions when Davis is on the court.

Talon Horton-Tucker is back after missing 13 games with an injury. The third-year shooting guard is averaging 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games.

After the Lakers visit the Celtics Friday, they visit the Detroit Pistons on Sunday and the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images | Harry How

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