The playoff picture for the Los Angeles Lakers has become simple as the team needs to win their final game and receive some help from the Portland Trail Blazers. To avoid the play-in tournament, the Lakers need a victory over the Pelicans along with a Blazers loss against the Nuggets in their season finale.
A Blazers win or a Lakers loss will confirm Los Angeles’ status in the play-in tournament against either the Warriors or Grizzlies. Even if the Blazers and Lakers finish with identical records, Portland would be the No. 6 seed since they own the tiebreaker over Los Angeles. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both missed time in the final week of the regular season indicating the Lakers are not concerned about playing their way into the postseason.
Basketball Reference’s playoff projections give the Lakers a 15.4% chance to land the No. 6 seed and a 46.1% chance to wind up as the No. 7 seed. The Lakers have an 85.3% chance of making the playoffs compared to the Warriors’ odds of 64.3%. Los Angeles has just a .7% chance to win the NBA Finals as repeat champions.
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How Does the Play-in Tournament Work?
If the Lakers do not eclipse the Blazers, they will land in the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed. There is a lot of confusion about how the play-in tournament works but essentially the Lakers will have as many as two opportunities to make the playoffs.
The Lakers would host either the Warriors or Grizzlies with the winner advancing to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed to take on the No. 2 seed in a seven-game series. If the Lakers lose, they would have another opportunity to make the postseason by playing the winner of the No. 9 and No. 10 seed matchup. The winner of this second game will advance to the playoffs as the No. 8 seed to face the No. 1 seed in the postseason.
The Lakers have repeatedly emphasized that the team does not fear falling into the play-in tournament. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel described himself as “unafraid” of the play-in games.
“For me, I’m unafraid of the play-in tournament with this team,” Vogel said, per Silver Screen and Roll. “But we definitely want to finish in the top-six. There’s just too many things that can happen in a one-game series: foul trouble, a rolled ankle, anything like that could pop up. We definitely want to finish in the top-six, it’s high priority for us, but at the same time, I’m confident in our group.”
Western Conference Play-in Tournament Standings
Teams in italics would make the play-in tournament if the season ended today. The games back column is based on how far each team is behind the No. 6 seed to avoid the play-in tournament.
|6. Trail Blazers||41||30||–|
Current Western Conference Play-in Tournament Matchups
|Game 1||No. 8 Warriors vs. No. 7 Lakers|
|Game 2||No. 10 Spurs vs. No. 9 Grizzlies|
|Game 3||Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Winner|
Western Conference Playoff Standings
Here is a look at the Western Conference standings heading into the Sunday, May 16th matchups. Teams in bold have clinched a playoff spot.
Western Conference Playoff Matchups
Here is a look at the current Western Conference playoff matchups heading into the weekend.
No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Lakers/Warriors/Grizzlies or Spurs
No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Lakers/Warriors
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
No. 4 L.A. Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks
Lakers’ Remaining Schedule
|Sat., May 15||Lakers 122 vs. Pacers 115||1 p.m.|
|Sun., May 16||Lakers at Pelicans||9 p.m.|
Blazers’ Remaining Schedule
|Sun, May 16||Nuggets at Blazers||9 p.m.|