Get familiarized with the play-in rules, folks because with a 106-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers will likely be participating in it this season. Here’s why:
- The Lakers are the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, which puts them in position for a play-in game with the No. 10 seed.
- The Trail Blazers now own the tiebreaker with the Lakers, meaning that if they both end the regular season with same records, Portland would go into the playoffs as the higher seed.
- The Lakers don’t own the tiebreaker with the Dallas Mavericks either and the Mavericks currently have a two-game cushion on the No. 7 seed.
If you’re looking for a silver lining after this game, it’s that the Trail Blazers have a tough schedule to close the regular season. Over their last five games, the Trail Blazers will play the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. Comparatively, the three toughest opponents the Lakers will play in their final five are the Suns, New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans.
That being said. it’s going to be hard for the Lakers to win many games as banged up as they are. In addition to the absence of key players like LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, the Lakers also have a few players that are playing through injury; most notably Alex Caruso, who played on a sore foot on Friday. Even in a loss, his toughness was admirable.
The Lakers have another tough game coming up on Sunday, as they’ll host the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have some good news about LeBron James because they probably don’t have enough right now.