The Los Angeles Lakers (28-28) will roll into the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Tuesday looking for a much-needed win against the rebuilding Hawks (18-38), and when I say much-needed, I mean much-needed.
Going into Tuesday’s game, the Lakers are two games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, trailing the Los Angeles Clippers (31-27) and Sacramento Kings (30-26). Both teams will play one more game before heading into the All-Star break.
The Kings will take on the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, a team they’ve lost two twice already this season. If they lose on Wednesday, they will fall to 30-27.
Meanwhile, the Clippers will play the lowly Phoenix Suns with the hope of completing a series sweep on the season. Even with the departure of Tobias Harris, the Clippers should handily win that game, improving their record to 32-27.
If those results stand, the Lakers will go into the All-Star break a game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and a game above a .500 record. That’s not terrible, considering the adversity they’ve had to face both on and off the court this season, but moral victories don’t get teams into the postseason.
Over the next 10 games, the Lakers will see five teams that are currently outside of the playoff picture, including the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. The four other teams they will see are the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets.
In order to feel confident about their chances of making the playoffs, the Lakers have to fatten up on the bottom feeders, win all of the games they “should” win and upset at least one of their heavyweight opponents.
Their path to the postseason won’t be easy, but it’s doable. That quest starts on Tuesday in Atlanta. For the love of all things good in the world, let’s hope they can do what the Rams couldn’t and escape with a win.
Your obligatory Lakers walking wounded injury update:
Mike Muscala has a right ankle sprain and Tyson Chandler has a right big toe sprain. Both are questionable for tonight’s game.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 12, 2019
Josh Hart shot 40.5 percent from three in Oct., 37.5 percent in Nov., 38.4 percent in Dec. and 22.7 percent in Jan. In Feb. he has missed both of his 3-point attempts in the two games he’s played in. Shutting him down was likely the right call.https://t.co/kQMVD3ML2V— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 11, 2019
Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball are (obviously) still out, while Bonga, Caruso and Williams are all with the @SouthBayLakers.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 12, 2019
Tip-off is at 4:30 p.m. PST on Spectrum SportsNet. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.