Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with five games remaining on their regular seasons schedule. This season, they won’t know where they’re going to finish in the Western Conference until the final buzzer sounds in their last game of the regular season. Why?
If the Lakers lose to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, they’ll stay at the No. 7 slot and participate in the play-in tournament regardless of whether or not the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets. Alternatively, if the Lakers win their game against the Pelicans and the Trail Blazers lose to the Nuggets, Frank Vogel’s side will clinch the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
Here’s a full breakdown of the possible playoff scenarios at stake on Wednesday, courtesy of the NBA:
Possible scenarios for today ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/HDISKjzUAU— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 16, 2021
The other game Lakers fans may want to keep an eye on is the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. If the Lakers don’t successfully climb out from under the play-in threshold, they’ll play whoever wins between the Grizzlies and Warriors on Sunday in the play-in tournament.
UPDATE: The Warriors handily beat the Grizzlies 113-101 on Wednesday, so if the Lakers don’t move up, they’ll play the Warriors in the play-in.
If the Lakers do clinch a spot in the top-six, it will be because they beat the Pelicans and the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers, and in that scenario, the Lakers would play the Nuggets in the first round. There’s no scenario where the Lakers play the Clippers in the first round.
Here’s a live look at the Western Conference standings:
- Utah Jazz
- Phoenix Suns
- Denver Nuggets
- LA Clippers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Portland Trail Blazers
- pi - Los Angeles Lakers
- pi - Golden State Warriors
- pi - Memphis Grizzlies
- pi - San Antonio Spurs
This story will be updated as results are finalized.