After Thursday’s win for the Lakers over the Suns, the fourth seed in the conference (Phoenix) and the 12th seed (Pelicans) are separated by three losses. It’s really impossible to overstate how absurd this playoff race has been and will be in the final weeks of the season.
Every game will be a big one for the Lakers moving forward, but a chance to win the season series and tiebreaker against the Thunder on Friday makes that game enormous as is. With a number of other big games across the conference, including a West Coast road trip by the Sixers that could be a big benefit for the Lakers, this weekend could shake up lots of things.
With the Lakers sitting at 36-37 and firmly in the middle of the play-in race, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether they’ll make the postseason. Even our friends at DraftKings have no lean as to whether the Lakers will make the playoffs. The current odds of whether they’ll make the playoffs is -110 yes, -110 no.
They also have the second-best odds to take part in the play-in at -210, trailing only the Mavs at -225 and just ahead of the Timberwolves at -205.
Games to Watch
Thunder at Clippers - For a number of reasons, Lakers fans will likely be monitoring this game. There isn’t a bad result here but OKC is the more direct competitor and back-to-back wins this weekend would drop them back below the Lakers.
Hornets at Mavericks - With Luka Doncic back, one would presume the Mavericks would eventually start winning games again, assuming they aren’t busy filing silly complaints about losses.
Bucks at Jazz - Utah just isn’t really going away despite trading away a number of role players at the deadline and getting nothing of use back in the short term. Milwaukee would be doing the Lakers a big favor with a win.
Sixers at Warriors - Golden State picked up a road win against Dallas, so surely that means they’re due for a home loss to make up for that now, right?
Suns at Kings - The Suns are now only a couple results going the wrong way on any given night, like Friday for example, from falling to the edges of the play-in game. Perhaps they should worry less about Austin Reaves’ free throw shooting and more about winning games.
Sixers at Suns - It’s asking a lot of Philly to help the Lakers in tough back-to-back road games, but Joel Embiid would have my full support as MVP if he were to do it.
Jazz at Kings - A home back-to-back favors Sacramento and a pair of Utah losses with a Lakers win could really separate the two teams.
Pelicans at Clippers - Another situation where a Clippers loss isn’t awful, but the Pelicans are the more direct threat. Without Paul George though, the Clippers may really start to slide.
Mavericks at Hornets - Expecting much out of Charlotte right now is fruitless, but it’d be nice if they had a big win or two left in them.
Thunder at Trail Blazers - If you’ve noticed, I haven’t included the Blazers because, going into Thursday’s games, they are three games behind the Lakers and falling further away. Here’s to Damian Lillard having another huge scoring outburst in him.
Timberwolves at Warriors - Another scenario where there isn’t a bad result, though it’s probably slightly preferred for the Warriors to win as Minnesota is closer to the Lakers in the standings.