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As teams from both conferences figure out their seeding, either eluding or joining the NBA’s new play-in tournament, the Lakers still have a chance to slip away from the seventh-seed’s grasp, which would bestow the squad some pivotal rest.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles doesn’t control their own fate. Their recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers certified Portland’s tiebreaker advantage over L.A., so the Lakers would need other teams to supply assistance.
But Portland has established a newfound sense of consistency as their roster is finally healthy, winning three of their last four games since beating Los Angeles.
Both Portland and Los Angeles are tied with a record of 41-30, so the fates of both teams wind down to their last games.
Here’s how the Lakers can become the sixth seed in the Western Conference:
Take care of business and defeat an injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans team who have already been eliminated from the playoffs
Hope the Denver Nuggets conquer Portland, which would bump the Trail Blazers to the seventh seed
While the former should materialize, the biggest concern for the Lakers is wondering if Portland will lose.
Denver has a healthy roster entering the game, but it doesn’t seem winning is in their best interest.
If Denver wins, it would grant them the third seed, meaning a first-round matchup against the Lakers. Los Angeles bounced Denver out of the playoffs in the Western Conference Finals last year, and without Jamal Murray’s multifaceted play, it wouldn’t be an ideal scenario for the Nuggets.
Portland also understands the stakes at hand, and with Damian Lillard appearing more hungry than ever, he’ll surely bring his best for this imperative game.
However tonight’s games transpire, it’s essential to note that all hope is not lost for L.A.