With just 15 games left in the NBA regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers are sitting at the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference with a record of 35-22, putting them 1.5 games back of the No. 4 seed Denver Nuggets and two games ahead of the No. 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers.
While the possibility of the Lakers falling into a play-in spot has been a popular subject for people outside of the their locker room in the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it’s not one that they’ve entertained as a team and Markieff Morris made that clear during his postgame media availability on Saturday.
“We’re not worried about the play-in, like at all,” Morris said after the Lakers’ 127-115 victory over the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz. “I don’t even know what the date is for that, so if it’s next month, that won’t involve us.
“We’re getting healthy at the right time, this is perfect for us, man. With this crazy season with all these games, back-to-back nights and days off in between, without our best two players we’ve held it down for the most part. Now we get them back fully healthy and ready to make a run.”
What’s funny about Morris’ comments is that he wasn’t even asked about the play-in tournament; he was asked about the playoffs and the play-in tournament being just around the corner. But even when the reporter clarified what he meant, Morris’ feelings about the play-in didn’t waver.
“Then say the playoffs, then,” Morris said. “Don’t say no play-in.”
Clearly, it’s something the Lakers have made a conscious effort to avoid, and to their credit, they’ve done a decent job without James and Davis.
Even with a below .500 record (7-8) with James and Davis out of the lineup, they’re four games clear of a play-in spot. The Lakers will play a few more games without James and Davis, but they’re expected to have at least Davis back in the lineup soon, something Morris said the team has kept in mind.
“I would say the energy is more so from getting our big dogs back,” Morris said.
Things could take a turn for the worst in this final stretch, but right now, the Lakers are in a relatively safe spot. Let’s hope that doesn’t change in the coming weeks.