Over the last month, the Lakers have been one of the best teams in the league, let alone the Western Conference. Since the trade deadline on Feb. 9, the Lakers are 8-4, tied with the Nuggets for the sixth-best record in that span. Only the Kings and Suns along with Denver have a better record over that stretch.
The problem is that they were a sub-.500 team before that span and are playing a long game of catch-up now. And the consequence of that is relying on teams typically looked upon as rivals for help in their playoff race, ranging from the Celtics to the Suns and Warriors.
The good news is like games on Monday when you don’t even have to root for one or the other.
The Suns and Warriors play for the final time this season on Monday in a game that’s, really, a win-win for the Lakers. As things stand, the two teams are on the opposite side of the play-in picture...for now. A three-game losing streak, though, can change either team’s fortune.
For Monday’s matchup, our friends at DraftKings have the Warriors favored by four points, largely because they’re playing at home. It remains an absolute mystery how Golden State is both 28-7 at home and 7-26 on the road.
Without Kevin Durant, the Suns have sacrificed their depth and don’t even have the superstar in exchange. The result is that they have separated themselves from the mess around the play-in spot but are not in the race for the second or third seed.
Interestingly, while they haven’t been dragged into the mud of the play-in race yet, they are only two games above the Clippers and 2.5 games ahead of the Warriors. And in this contest, it’s hard to look past Golden State because they’re at home. If they aren’t able to beat the Warriors and then fall in their next game against the Bucks, suddenly they could also be in the muck.
It’s an important game for both sides, the Suns to avoid slipping anymore and the Warriors to get out of the dirt. For that reason, at least on this night, you don’t have to root for either rival.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.