With the Western Conference being a tight-knit race, this will be a twice-weekly series looking at the Western Conference standings and games to watch as the Lakers look to move back into the playoffs.
While it may feel like very little has broken the Lakers way when it comes to injuries this season and in the last week, specifically, almost everything in the standings and playoff race continues to go their way. The end result is, after games on Monday, the Lakers are part of an absurd four-way tie from ninth to 12th place.
Tiebreakers currently have them in 10th place with the Jazz and Blazers in ninth and tenth, respectively, but the team is fully in the running at this point. In that sense, it’s not a particularly great time to play three straight playoff foes, but that doesn’t mean things can’t continue to break their way elsewhere, too.
Games to Watch
Warriors at Thunder - The Warriors are still ahead of the Lakers, but the Thunder are just a half-game behind and seem like the team that is the more present threat, so root for a Golden State win.
Jazz at Mavericks - The Mavs have plummeted down the standings since trading for Kyrie Irving — surely a coincidence — so this is kind of a win-win game, but the Jazz are one of the teams currently tied with the Lakers.
Trail Blazers at Celtics - I’m not going to tell you to root for a Boston win, I’ll just say that Portland losing is a beneficial result for the Lakers.
Mavericks at Pelicans - Dallas could do the Lakers a couple solids this week, but nothing about their recent form suggests they will.
Thunder at Suns - After looking like a team committed to tanking, the Thunder welcomed back Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to try to compete again, but it could be a rough week for that.
Raptors at Clippers - Obviously, the Clippers losing is a big positive for a number of reasons, but root for a couple of overtimes with the Lakers and Toronto set to play on Friday.
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