The Los Angeles Lakers are in a battle to make the Play-In Tournament with the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers are currently in the 10th seed with a 31-44 record with the Spurs just behind them at 31-45. Sitting just above both teams are the Pelicans with a 32-43 record.
The Lakers’ loss to New Orleans gave the Pelicans the tiebreaker over the Lakers. However, the race for the Play-In is very much still alive.
Yes, it is still shocking that the Lakers are involved in the race to begin with when most people had them contending for a championship but, they are where they are, and they have a massive problem that could potentially stop them from clinching the 10th or 9th seed.
That problem is their schedule.
The Lakers have by far the toughest schedule of the teams remaining in the Play-In hunt: the Pelicans and the Spurs.
To make matters worse, LeBron James is carrying an ankle injury that he described as “horrible”. The injury must significant when James is missing games the Lakers need to win.
James picked up the injury in the massive tie-breaker game against the Pelicans – a game the Lakers ultimately lost. He then had to sit out against the Dallas Maverick, a game in which the Lakers suffered an embarrassing defeat, losing 128-118.
James will not play against the Jazz, one of the toughest games left on the Lakers’ schedule. Anthony Davis has been listed as doubtful for that game as well, so perhaps the eight-time All-Star will make his much-needed return soon.
The Lakers have zero momentum at the moment. Their best player (James) is out injured and their next best player (Davis) may be making a return soon, but what level will he be at? Their third-best player (Russell Westbrook) has been struggling this season. In March, the Lakers had a record of 4-11.
Next up is the Utah Jazz, then a rematch against the Pelicans. They also play the sixth-seed Denver Nuggets twice. Then they have the third seed, Golden State Warriors who are also dealing with some injury concerns, before playing the first-seed Pheonix Suns.
Most fans wouldn’t be surprised if they lost all those games besides maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder game. There are no games in which the Lakers can view themselves as heavy favorites. They have to start playing winning basketball now.
The Spurs’ schedule is considerably easier.
Their remaining games are:
- Portland Trail Blazers x2
- Denver Nuggets
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Golden State Warriors
- Dallas Mavericks
Meanwhile, the Pelicans’ schedule is:
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Sacramento Kings
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Golden State Warriors
It is no argument about who has the toughest schedule.
The Lakers will need to defeat tough teams to end the regular season and find some level of consistency, which they’ve been missing this entire season. If the Lakers can exceed expectations and finish the season strong and get into the Play-In, maybe that will give the team the boost they need. The motivation. The momentum.
It’s hard to pinpoint who the Lakers could beat besides the Thunder who are the 14th seed in the West with a record of 22-54. However, with the direction the Lakers are headed, it’s fair to worry about their game against the Thunder too.
The most important part of the season for the Lakers is now. The final stretch.
Will their disappointing season continue, or will they finally turn it around? The odds are stacked against them right now, but you can never count out a team led by LeBron James.
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