The Lakers have not only played their way into the play-in positions, they’ve now put themselves in a position to where there’s now ground between them and the teams out of the play-in race.
After games on Wednesday, the Lakers are in the ninth seed on tiebreakers over the Pelicans with Oklahoma City, Portland and Utah all a game behind them. If eyes are focused above them, Minnesota and Dallas are just 1.5 games above them and the Clippers and Warriors and two games clear.
This isn’t a situation getting any less messy, the Lakers are just putting themselves in the middle of the mess instead of on the outskirts. Utah, for example, lost to the Mavericks on Tuesday and fell from the ninth seed to the 13th seed.
In short, it’s about to be a very long final month of the season.
Games to Watch
Jazz at Magic - Utah has, predictably, fallen off the pace since the trade deadline. It’s hard to see them turning things around.
Warriors at Grizzlies - Speaking of slumping teams, the Grizzlies are quickly falling down the standings. There’s still a big cushion between them and the Lakers so rooting for them to beat the Warriors is the sensible move.
Nets at Timberwolves - Minnesota would be one of the next teams the Lakers could target if their run continues, so losses by them could help them out the other side of the play-in game.
Jazz at Hornets - The Hornets have been pretty lifeless this season, particularly since losing LaMelo Ball for the season. It would be a big upset if they won here.
Knicks at Clippers - The Clippers are directly above the Lakers, making for quite an interesting final stretch of the season in Los Angelels.
Mavericks at Grizzlies - With the Lakers’ games against Memphis done, it’s time to root for them to turn things around and help out the Lakers this weekend.
Thunder at Pelicans - More or less a win-win for the Lakers. They can still win the season series against both, so there isn’t really a bad outcome here.
Bucks at Warriors - Logic would suggest that the return of Steph Curry would lead to Golden State turning things around, so losing to Milwaukee would be big here.
Trail Blazers at Pelicans - The Lakers have already tied the series against Portland, so rooting for the Pelicans AND hoping the Lakers win against New Orleans later this season is the call.
Thunder at Spurs - Rooting for San Antonio to win is hopeless. Don’t do it.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.