Lakers Playoff Picture: How L.A. Can Avoid the Play-in Tournament

Lakers Warriors Play-in

Getty The Lakers could face the Warriors in the play-in tournament.

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be headed for the play-in tournament, but there is still time left for the Lakers to avoid this scenario with a lot of help. As a reminder, the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds in each conference will make the play-in tournament.

With three games to go, the No. 7 Lakers find themselves one game behind the No. 5 Blazers and No. 6 Mavericks. It is a bit more complicated than that as the Lakers do not hold the tiebreaker over the Blazers or Mavericks, so they will need to finish at least one game above either team to top them in the standings.

If there is a silver lining for Lakers fans, it is the Blazers have a much more challenging closing schedule with games against three of the top four seeds in the Western Conference based on the current standings. Portland has gone 0-6 against those teams this year. The Lakers face the Rockets, Pacers and Pelicans to close out the season.

The bad news for the Lakers is they end the season with a back-to-back and both games are on the road. If the Lakers won all of the final four games, they would still need the Blazers to lose at least two of their final matchups. All this leads to an exciting finish for the Lakers, but head coach Frank Vogel emphasized the team is not fearing the play-in tournament if the standings hold.

“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.”

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How Does the Play-in Tournament Work for the Lakers?

If the Lakers remain the No. 7 seed, here is how the play-in tournament works for Los Angeles. The Lakers would play the No. 8 seed, likely either the Warriors or Grizzlies, in a one-game playoff to advance to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed to face the No. 2 seed.

The losing team would face the winner of the No. 9 versus No. 10 play-in matchup to be the No. 8 seed. The winner of this third game of the play-in tournament advances to the playoffs as the No. 8 seed to face the No. 1 seed in a seven-game series.

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.

5. Mavericks 40 29
6. Trail Blazers 40 29
7. Lakers 39 30 1
8. Warriors 37 33 3.5
9. Grizzlies 36 33 4
10. Spurs 33 35 6.5
11. Pelicans 31 38 9
12. Kings 31 38 9

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 Tuesday, May 11th matchups.

1. Jazz 50 19
2. Suns 48 21 2
3. Clippers 46 23 4
4. Nuggets 45 24 5
5. Trail Blazers 40 29 10
6. Mavericks 40 29 10
7. Lakers 39 30 11
8. Warriors 37 33 13.5
9. Grizzlies 36 33 14
10. Spurs 33 35 16.5
11. Pelicans 31 38 19
12. Kings 31 38 19

Lakers’ Remaining Schedule

Tues., May 11 Knicks at Lakers Lakers win, 101-99 (OT)
Wed., May 12 Rockets at Lakers 10:30 p.m.
Sat., May 15 Lakers at Pacers TBD
Sun., May 16 Lakers at Pelicans TBD

Blazers’ Remaining Schedule

Mon., May 10 Rockets at Blazers Blazers win, 140-129
Wed., May 12 Blazers at Jazz 9:30 p.m.
Thurs., May 13 Blazers at Suns 10 p.m.
Sun, May 16 Nuggets at Blazers TBD


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