The Lakers have put themselves in a position to, improbably, play themselves as high as the No. 5 seed in the coming week. It’s a long shot, but so much of what the Lakers have done in the final months of the season as been a long shot, not just staying alive in the play-in race but doing so without LeBron James for most of it.
The only way any of the best-case scenarios are possible is if the Lakers knock off the Clippers on Wednesday in what will be the biggest game ever between the two franchises. A win there and some results going their way this week could result in the Lakers finishing above the madness.
Coming out of Sunday, here’s a look at the standings where the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers and Pelicans are all tied on 38 losses.
No teams play on Monday as the league takes the day off with the college basketball national championship game slated for Monday evening. It gives everyone some time to rest and reset before the run-in.
Because of how important each game will be in the coming week, we’ll bring you this article daily, but not until after Tuesday’s games...
Games to Watch
Timberwolves at Nets - In a game of who can have the worst loss in the play-in race, Minnesota ran away with the title by losing at home to an actively tanking Portland team. The Lakers now have two fewer losses to them and one more Timberwolves loss likely locks them behind the Lakers.
Kings at Pelicans - New Orleans looked like a team tumbling out of the play-in at one point but have rebounded quite nicely. The Lakers hold the tiebreaker on them and that appears to be something that will matter. For this week, rooting for them to lose in all circumstances in priority No. 1.
Thunder at Warriors - This is probably a debate of getting greedy vs. having fun out there. The Thunder are three losses behind the Lakers and seem in the rearview mirror. The Warriors are squarely in the crosshairs above the Lakers. If you’re worried about securing a play-in spot, one more Thunder loss should do the trick. If you’re interested in moving out of the play-in game, a Warriors loss does the trick. Personally, rooting for Oklahoma City seems like the move here.
Spurs at Suns - With Phoenix in the fourth seed and three games above the Lakers, this might be the only time they’re featured this week. They’re a win away from effectively being out of reach for the Lakers and effectively have their spot locked in.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.