NBA Playoffs 2021: Breaking down Los Angeles Lakers Seeding Scenarios

Published 05/14/2021, 1:37 AM EDT
Feb 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel (right) talks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Lakers 96-94 loss to the Miami Heat at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports | Courtesy: Reuters


The Los Angeles Lakers are having a mixed bag of a regular season. Coming off of a championship run last season, the Lakers had the shortest off season in the history of the NBA.

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Despite having limited off days, the Lakers looked great during the initial part of the season and were one of the top teams in the West. Given their form, it looked like they were headed for a comfortable regular season.

Lakers’ current league position

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The Lakers continued to be a top three team in the West for a couple of months, but then, things went south for the champions. First, superstar Anthony Davis suffered from a tendonosis injury.

The team was finally adjusting to a roster without AD, and LeBron James did a fantastic job in steadying the ship. While they might have racked up some losses, they still remained as the fourth seed.

But things got worse for the Lakers as their talisman suffered from a freak high ankle sprain and was out for 2 months. Without both of their superstars, the champions looked clueless initially and racked up the losses.

Mar 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) is helped up by Los Angeles Lakers guard Wesley Matthews (9) and Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) after injuring his leg in the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Even when AD returned, the 28-year-old was not that impressive. With a tough schedule and Davis looking like a shell of himself, the Lakers lost the fourth seed to the Nuggets and then the Mavs overtook them as the fifth seed. Even the Blazers eventually replaced them as them as the sixth seed after defeating them in their most recent regular season game.

With the introduction of the play-in tournament this season, the champions are not confirmed to be even in the playoffs this season. If the table stays as it is, we might see the Lakers playing a one off game against the Warriors for the seventh seed in the West. If they end up in the play-in tournament and possibly lose both their games, the Lakers might be out of the postseason.

Can the defending champions make it to the playoffs directly?

With the Lakers stuck at the seventh seed right now, many suspect that the champions might end up in the play-in tournament. But it might go down to the wire to see whether the champions become a top six team or not.

Their recent form has simply been stunning. They have won four of their last six games with victories coming against the likes of the Nuggets, the Suns and the Knicks. The Brow has been a key figure in this run.

In their last five games AD is averaging 25.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Given their recent form, they are only a game behind the Blazers and the Mavs who have a record of 41 wins and 29 losses.

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The three teams have two remaining games in their regular season schedule. While the Lakers face off against the Pacers and the Pelicans, the Blazers will complete their season with two back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns.

Mavs, meanwhile, go up against the Raptors and Timberwolves for their remaining two fixtures. Given the quality of the opposition, the Mavericks are highly unlikely to drop both the games.

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The Blazers have the regular season series lead against the Lakers so the champions need to have a better record than Portland if they want to leapfrog them for the sixth seed. With two games left, the champions need to win their remaining games and need the Blazers to lose theirs to qualify for the automatic playoff spots.

Given the red-hot form of the Blazers who have won nine of their last 10 games, two losses in a row looks highly unlikely. Do you think the Lakers can qualify for the playoffs?

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Aditya Mohapatra

1185 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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