Kyrie Irving acknowledged it will be tough for LeBron James to miss the playoffs after the Celtics handed the Lakers their fifth straight loss on Saturday.
Irving scored 30 points as the Celtics won for a third consecutive game on the road, their 120-107 triumph lifting them to a 41-26 record for the season as they sit in fifth position in the East.
In contrast, the Lakers look set to miss out in the Western Conference.
They are seven games back of the eighth-placed Spurs, meaning James is in danger of being a spectator during the postseason for the first time since 2005.
“I feel for him,” Irving, who won a title with James and the Cavaliers in 2016, told the media after the game.
“Obviously [James] missing a lot of time, as well as Brandon Ingram, but ‘Bron’ is a championship contender, he always has been. He’s such a great player and such a great teammate.
“When you’re not eligible to qualify for the playoffs it’s hard, so I feel for him.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 10, 2019
While the Lakers are slumping towards the end of the regular season, the Celtics appear to be finding form at just the right time.
The team has struggled to live up to expectations but Irving insists their problems in previous months will not matter once the playoffs begin.
“This stuff that happens in the regular season, you barely remember it,” the six-time All-Star point guard said.
“When it comes to the playoffs, that’s when you want to be playing your best basketball. We just want to play well, everybody has to step up.
“That starts with me, my energy and my spirit. When everyone is on the same page, we are a different team. We weren’t doing that consistently throughout the season but now it’s more important than ever to be together, to have connectivity. That’s where my focus is.
“That helps me play at a high level when my teammates are playing at a high level.”