The Los Angeles Lakers ended their regular season on a high on Sunday, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 110-98 at the Smoothie King Center. However, their win alone wasn’t enough to get them out of a play-in spot.
In order to sneak into the top-six, the Lakers needed to win and they needed the Denver Nuggets to beat the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers held up their end up the bargain, but the Nuggets were blown out by the Trail Blazers 132-116.
Now, the Lakers will play the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors — a team they went 2-1 against in the regular season — in the play-in tournament. If Sunday’s game was any indication of how prepared LeBron James is for the postseason, Lakers fans should feel confident going into the play-in tournament.
In 27 minutes against the Pelicans, James tallied 25 points on 50% shooting from the field , 6 assists and 3 steals. His stat line doesn’t tell the whole story, though: he was moving around well and looked like he had a little pep in his step. That was until he rolled his ankle and had to check out of the game. That could be something.
Wesley Matthews also looked sharp in his limited minutes on Sunday, making two of his three 3-point attempts. It wasn’t too long ago that Matthews was out of the rotation entirely, but with how he’s played as of late, it would be a mistake to leave him out of the rotation in the postseason.
The Lakers will play their first (and hopefully only) play-in game on Wednesday. It’s not the position they or their fans thought they’d be in when the season started, but it shouldn’t change the trajectory of their path to repeating. If you’ve got LeBron James and Anthony Davis, you’ve got a chance.