clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Lakers can still get the sixth seed, explained

While Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers was demoralizing, the Lakers could still still finish with the sixth seed and a favorable path in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After building up the matchup as one of the biggest in the series between the two, the Lakers were outmatched by the Clippers on Wednesday. The loss takes the Lakers out of the driver’s seat for the No 6 or No. 5 seed, but it doesn’t make it impossible for the former of those.

After Wednesday’s result, the Lakers are in the No. 7 seed, ahead of the Pelicans on a tiebreaker and a full game behind the Warriors and Clippers with two games remaining. If we’re focusing on the sixth seed, it’s more likely to come by passing the Warriors, who the Lakers hold a tiebreaker against, versus the Clippers, who they do not.

To that point, for the Lakers to finish above the Clippers, they have to win out and the Clippers have to lose out. There is no other scenario.

When it comes to the Warriors, there are some other scenarios, because the Lakers have the tiebreaker there. Turns out, it’s pretty hard for Golden State to win tiebreakers when they refuse to win road games.

The basis of any scenario for the Lakers to pass the Warriors is they have to finish with at least one more win than them this weekend in the final two games. If the Lakers go 2-0, the Warriors need to split their games. If the Lakers go 1-1, the Warriors must go winless.

For the Lakers, their two games will come against the Suns and the Jazz, both at home. The Phoenix game will be very, very interesting. The Suns can have a pretty big say in who they play in the first round as they play the Lakers and Clippers in the final weekend of the season.

More importantly to the Lakers, Phoenix plays the Nuggets on Thursday before traveling to Los Angeles for a back-to-back on Friday. They have the fourth seed officially locked up and there’s no reason to play both sides of the back-to-back. There’s probably a good chance Phoenix comes to Los Angeles for games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday, respectively, and just spend a nice, relaxing weekend in the city.

Obviously, it greatly helps the Lakers if the Suns rest any or all of the likes of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Ayton. The Lakers then wrap up their regular season against a Jazz team that gave them a scare on Thursday, but should be easier to beat at home to wrap up the season.

The Lakers must split those games at a bare minimum to have a chance at the sixth seed.

Now, the Warriors have an interesting pair of games remaining. If the Lakers win both of their games this weekend, the Warriors need to drop one of their two road games, either in Sacramento on Friday or Portland on Sunday.

Again, it’s worth noting the Warriors are an almost impossible 9-30 on the road this season. The Pistons, Spurs and Rockets are the only teams with worse road records this year and they’re involved in a much different race than the Warriors right now.

Sacramento still has an outside shot at the second seed, so it’s not guaranteed they would rest players against Golden State on Friday. That would certainly be the more likely game for the Warriors to lose between the two contests with Portland full-on tanking to end the season.

Regardless if the Kings are whole on Friday, the Warriors will not be as Andrew Wiggins will not play in either of the final two games of the season. Ultimately, who rests and who plays between the Kings and Suns is going to go a long way in determining the race for the sixth seed.

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

To summarize all of this more briefly, here’s a look at how the Lakers can finish with the sixth seed:

  • Lakers win at home against the Suns on Friday and Jazz on Sunday
  • Warriors split one of their two road games against the Kings on Friday or Blazers on Sunday


  • Lakers split final two home games against the Suns on Friday and Jazz on Sunday
  • Warriors lose both of their final two road games against the Kings on Friday or Blazers on Sunday

If the Warriors win consecutive road games this weekend — something they’ve only done twice this year — then the Lakers can finish no higher than the seventh seed and will take part in the play-in game.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Silver Screen & Roll Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Los Angeles Lakers news from Silver Screen & Roll