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Lakers vs. Warriors Preview: There’s still games left?

Now that the Lakers are officially eliminated from play-in contention, the season is over... right? Sadly, that’s wrong, as the team has three games remaining, starting with the Warriors on Thursday.

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Lakers, Nuggets, NBA Basketball Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: After this story originally published, the Lakers ruled out LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook vs. the Warriors.

Original story follows.


It’s been a near inevitability since their loss against the Pelicans this past Friday, but finally, the Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from play-in contention last night after the Spurs won and they lost 121-110 to the Phoenix Suns.

So the season is officially over, allowing LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the squad to pack their bags for Cancun to finally get some enjoyment after a depressing 2021-22 campaign. As Davis once said — with his old pals over at the Pelicans repeating the same last night — “That’s all folks.”

Oh wait... the Lakers still have three remaining games in the season... darn!

They’ll play the first of those three remaining games Thursday against the Golden State Warriors as the players, coaches, and organization as a whole try and crawl to the finish.

I don’t know...

So yeah... what to talk about? I guess the Warriors’ playoff scenarios could be highlighted.

The Dubs will not be able to go higher than the three-seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, but the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks come into Thursday one game behind the Warriors. The Mavericks have a 3-1 record against the Warriors this season, meaning they’d leap above them in the standings if the two teams were to end the season with the same record.

Both teams have three games remaining, with the Warriors needing to have the same record or better than the Mavs in those final games to stay as the three-seed, meaning they’d face either the (currently) fifth-seeded Jazz or sixth-seeded Nuggets, who are separated by half a game at the time of this preview being published.

The Warriors will be at a disadvantage as they will be without the hurt Stephen Curry for Thursday’s Lakers game as well as the other two remaining regular-season contests, meaning there’s a decent chance that the Warriors enter the playoffs as the 4th seed after such an amazing start to the season.

Speaking of the Lakers... well... what is else is there to say?

The most exciting aspect of Thursday regarding the Lakers may just be the commentary about them we’ll get from the “Inside the NBA” crew on TNT, as Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley are sure to fire off some (honestly, deserved) insults and jokes the Lakers’ way.

No, that is not a typo. Unfortunately, this game is being nationally televised.

As everything with the Lakers has since 2018, any sort of excitement for the rest of the season revolves around one LeBron James. There’s still the possibility that we see him play in one of these final three games despite nothing for the team to play for as he can end up winning the scoring title in the NBA this year for only the second time of his career (first was in the 2007-08 season). He comes into this game questionable on the injury report after missing the past two games.

Joel Embiid currently leads LeBron in the pursuit of the scoring title by an extremely thin margin, as he averages 30.4 points per game to LeBron’s 30.3. As our own Jacob Rude explained here, LeBron will need to either play in two of the team’s final three games to qualify for the scoring title, or put in an other-worldly effort in one of the final three to complete the achievement.

But even if we’re blessed with LeBron collecting another career milestone while he’s wearing the purple-and-gold, this one will have a bittersweet taste to it because even with him playing at such a high level at age 37, it will be the only accomplishment the Lakers have to show for it.

Notes and Updates:

  • Other than James being questionable, the other notable change to the injury report is Russell Westbrook (right shoulder soreness) being added. He is questionable to play with the new injury now that the Lakers have nothing to play for.
  • Anthony Davis (right mid-foot sprain) is also questionable, while Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) remains out, as does two-way player Mason Jones, who is with the South Bay Lakers as they continue their playoff run.
  • As previously mentioned, the Warriors’ injury report includes the absence of Stephen Curry as he tries to get his left foot sprain right before the playoffs begin. James Wiseman will be out too after being shut down for the rest of the season a week or so ago.
  • Around the league, questions surrounding Eastern Conference playoff teams and their players’ vaccination statuses continue to be raised as no one can play in Toronto against the Raptors in a playoff series without proof of being fully vaccinated. The Celtics and 76ers have previously declined to reveal the vaccination statuses of their players, however, it reasons to believe that Matisse Thybulle may not be vaccinated due to him being ruled ineligible to play tomorrow in Toronto. The Raptors are currently the fifth seed and would play the fourth-seeded 76ers if the season were to end today. However, those seeds could definitely change by the end of the season this Sunday.

The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, with the game exclusively televised on TNT.

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