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5 Reasons Why the Los Angeles Lakers Should Coast to the Fourth Seed: A Fan’s Take

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The end of the regular season is slowing approaching and the Los Angeles Lakers are still jockeying for playoff position. Currently, we hold a half a game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the third spot in the Western Conference. With just four games remaining I feel the Lakers need take their foot off the gas and sit back and relax, even if it cost them the Pacific Division Title. Here are five reasons why the Lakers could benefit from letting the Clippers pass them.

Health

The single most important factor entering the playoffs is health. The Lakers understand this as they are in no rush to get Kobe Bryant back on the court. Speculation is that he'll return on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs, but it wouldn't surprise me if his minutes are closely monitored. The Lakers may have been toying with the idea of shutting him down for the rest of the regular season, but opted to get him back out there so he can get the rust off before the playoffs begin. Don't expect too much from Bryant. I think the Lakers should take a similar approach with other players too, particularly Andrew Bynum. We have been fortunate that Drew has been healthy this season and we would be sitting in good shape if Bynum is healthy and well rested come playoff time.

Avoid the Thunder

The San Antonio Spurs have jumped ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top seed in the West. This could mean the Lakers would have to face the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs, should we remain at the three seed. Personally, I'd rather face the Spurs in round 2 and save the Thunder for the Conference Finals. Beating OKC is going to be a difficult task regardless of when we play them, but I'd rather force those young guys to go against our playoff experienced Lakers' team in high pressure Conference Championship series. Those 16 championship banners hanging over them at the Staples Center can be rather intimidating.

Better First Round Test

If the Lakers finish in with the third seed, then our first round opponents will end up being the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, or Denver Nuggets. Now while all three of these teams would be an easier matchup that the fifth seeded Memphis Grizzlies, I feel the Lakers would benefit more by playing the tougher team. Playing a team like Dallas or Phoenix may result in our defense becoming complacent and this may hurt us in round two. Memphis forces us to play with some intensity and may help jump start Pau Gasol into playing more aggressively as he battles his little brother.

Doesn't Affect Home Court Advantage

Whether we are third seed or fourth seed, we still get home court advantage in round one. Whether we are third seed or fourth seed, we still have to go on the road in round two. The only thing that could come into play if we dropped to the fourth seed is that if we ended up playing the Clippers in the Conference Finals, then they would have home court advantage. And guess where they play - Staples Center.

Work Out the Bugs

The Lakers should use these last four games to fine tune some things. With Kobe out recently, we've been able to find ways to utilize other players. I love how involved Matt Barnes has been lately as he has averaged 16 points over the last four games. In the six games that Kobe has been out, Bynum has averaged 25 points, Gasol 21 points, and World Peace 16 points. The Lakers need to continue find balance and play good team ball rather than relying on Kobe taking on too much of the workload.

I'm not suggesting we just roll over these last few games. I'm simply saying that winning should take a back seat to some other factors and that we may benefit by dropping to the fourth seed.

Author Dan Rogers has been a life-long Los Angeles Lakers' fan since he was a child. From the Magic Johnson "Showtime" days to Kobe and Shaq, he lives for every game they play. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPhantom24 or on Facebook.

Other Articles by Dan Rogers on Yahoo! Sports:

How Trading for 2 Bench Players Will Help the Lakers Reach the Finals

Kobe Bryant is the Greatest Ever

5 Reasons the Los Angeles Lakers Could Be in Trouble

SOURCES:

Basketball-Reference.com
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