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.
|6. Trail Blazers||40||29||–|
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.
|5. Trail Blazers||40||29||10|
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|