The Lakers, who remain undefeated in the in-season tournament, are looking to sweep the group phase round as they take on the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. This will be the last game of the first round and an important one given where both teams currently sit in the Group A standings.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz
When: 7 p.m. PT, Nov. 21
Where: Crypto.com Arena
Watch: TNT, Spectrum Sportsnet
The Lakers, who have accumulated a point differential of +42 points, are one game away from advancing to the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament. It just so happens that their last game of the group phase round is against the Jazz (2-1), who currently have sole control of the second seed in the Group A standings.
And since the Jazz have only lost once in the first round, they should have the motivation to hand the Lakers its first defeat in the tournament. It also helps that Utah is one of the teams in the running to be the chosen wildcard team of the Western Conference so the point differential they rack up after Tuesday’s game — whether they win or lose — matters.
Now as for the Lakers, what only matters to them is the result of this game. Here are the two scenarios that are in play based on the outcome:
If the Lakers win
If the Lakers defeat the Jazz, they automatically advance to the knockout stage. They will be recognized as one of the few teams to sweep the group phase round as they will also be praised for their 4-0 start to the tournament.
It’s also worth pointing out that if the Lakers sweep the group phase round, the odds of either LeBron James or Anthony Davis to win the In-Season Tournament MVP and be part of the All-Tournament Team gets a well-deserved boost. Currently, James ranks third in NBA.com’s In-Season Tournament’s MVP ladder just behind Tyrese Haliburton and Domantas Sabonis. These awards will be given after the knockout round.
If the Lakers lose
If Los Angeles doesn’t take care of business, they will be tied with Utah (3-1) in the standings but, based on the first tiebreaker being head-to-head record, will not win the group. Instead, they will have to rely on earning one of the Wild Card spots to move to the knockout rounds.
Note that the Lakers’ point differential will only come into play in determining their quarterfinal seeding if they beat Utah or for the wildcard race. So the amount of points they either win or lose by on Tuesday will still matter for the purple and gold moving forward.
The Lakers will be stumbling upon a Jazz team that has struggled as of late. Utah has lost seven out of their last 10 games and have only won once on the road. However, this Jazz team scores and rebounds the basketball really well as they rank 10th in the league in points per game (116.8) and first in rebounds (47.6). The Lakers need to be ready for Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson, two of the team’s offensive engines.
If the Lakers can keep up with Utah’s pace and offense while imposing their will on the defensive end then that will go a long way for them. It would be ideal if they shoot better in this one compared to how they did against the Houston Rockets (20.7%) and put this game to bed early since it’s also the first night of a back-to-back for them.
Let’s see if the Lakers can sweep the first round of the in-season tournament on Tuesday.
Notes and Updates:
- From starting the season at the bottom of the league in the rebounding department, the eye test and stats confirm that the Lakers have improved in this category. It’s still quite low but L.A. now ranks 17th in the league in rebounds per game. They out-rebounded the Rockets last Sunday by a wide margin (55-42) and just gave up 11 second chance points. The real test will be against the current best rebounding team in the league on Tuesday.
- For the Lakers’ injury report, Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion) and Maxwell Lewis (G League assignment) are listed as out. Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) is probable while LeBron James (left calf contusion) and Jalen Hood-Schifino (right patella contusion) are questionable.
- The Jazz will be without Walker Kessler (elbow).
You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani