It’s official: the Los Angeles Lakers will be participating in the NBA’s second annual play-in tournament despite the fact that they ended their regular season with a five-game winning streak because the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. The Lakers needed the Trail Blazers to lose in order to finish in the top-six.
The Lakers will now enter the postseason as the No. 7 seed and play the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament on Wednesday. If the Lakers beat the Warriors on Wednesday, they’ll move onto play the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns.
Obviously there’s a chance that the Lakers will lose to the Warriors or Grizzlies in their first play-in game, but it’s highly unlikely. The last time the Lakers and Warriors played, the Lakers won 128-97 and both Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol were sidelined for that one. In their matchup before that, the Lakers won 117-91 without Davis.
That’s not to say the Lakers shouldn’t fear the Warriors at all — Steph Curry is in the midst of a season that statistically rivals both of his MVP seasons and the Warriors are coming fresh off of back-to-back wins against the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. But the Lakers present such a bad matchup for the Warriors that it would be genuinely surprising if they lost.
If they do lose for some reason, they’ll play whoever wins between the No. 10 seed San Antonio Spurs and No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed. Again, it’s possible that they lose that game, but unlikely.
The Lakers and Warriors will go head-to-head Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. Get your popcorn out, Lakers fans: the road to No. 18 starts now.