Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Los Angeles Lakers fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts, and check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.
From an insider’s perspective, the play-in race for Lakers fans has been one filled with dread. Once eyeing ways to play their ways into the playoffs and out of the play-in games, now the Lakers are going to need something close to a miracle to make the postseason at all with both the Pelicans and Spurs having passed them in recent weeks.
From an outsider’s perspective, though, the drama surrounding the race for the final two play-in games has been enjoyable for NBA fans across the league to close out this season. It’s fair to assume a bit of it is schadenfreude directed at the Lakers, but it doesn’t take away that the play-in race has been a captivating one that is set up for a dramatic final week.
In this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey, fans showed just how much they’ve enjoyed following the race for the ninth and tenth seeds in the Western Conference.
Objectively, the play-in game has been a positive contribution to the league. In each of the last two seasons, it has provided drama at the end of the year that likely would not have existed without it.
For example, in years without the play-in game, the Pelicans and Spurs both would have possibly closed up shop and focused on tanking to improve their draft stock being so far removed from the eighth seed. Even now, with their late-season runs, the Pelicans are 4.5 games out of the Clippers in the eighth seed.
But instead of focusing on the future, both teams focused on the present and have played their way into the play-in games, giving themselves a chance at making the playoffs. As it stands before Wednesday night’s games, in fact, the Pelicans and Spurs would be in the play-in game and the Lakers would be on the outside looking in.
Not shockingly, a majority of fans think the Lakers’ days are numbered and they won’t be making the playoffs this season, a fair assumption given the state of affairs less than two weeks before season’s end.
A healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be a formidable match-up for anyone in the play-in games, but it doesn’t appear the Lakers are going to have many, if any, games with the pair healthy to close the season. Even as Davis looks set to make his return, James’ sprained ankle suffered against the Pelicans has sidelined him for multiple games since.
The team hasn’t had great injury luck this season but they’ve also shot themselves in the foot more than a few times this season, to say the least.
But if nothing else, the Lakers continue to provide good ratings and keep fans entertained — perhaps even if it’s at their expense — along the way.
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