‘We Can Get the 4th Seed’ – Shaquille O’Neal Poses Important Question to LA Lakers Ahead of Potential Play-In Game

Published 05/09/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
May 2, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against Toronto Raptors forward Stanley Johnson (5) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


It appears the LA Lakers have fallen victim to Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.. These words ring true every time the Lakers take to the court. Long-term injuries to their major stars, opposition teams having excellent nights, or their role players underperforming have become a staple of Laker games. And now, they are in serious jeopardy of being in the play-in tournament, after being the first seed last year.

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Shaq asks LA Lakers what they prioritize

Former NBA champion and LA Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal expressed concern for the Lakers. He was far from impressed with the way they have been playing in recent weeks, where the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been constant impediments. So he asked the Lakers whether they prioritize getting all their players fully fit and working through the play-in, or bringing everyone back early to avoid the tournament.

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“Rest the guys till the play-in game or do they play them now and say ‘we don’t want to play in the play-in game?. I know I’m injured, but I’m not hurt. I got to fight through this injury and play now so we can get the fourth seed’.”

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Shaq presents an interesting conundrum for the Lakers and their fans. On one hand, fans believe that a play-in tournament reduces their chances because they will have to play at least one extra game to reach the playoffs. However, there are other fans who believe that the play-in tournament isn’t a major impediment if the Lakers are fully fit. At full strength and at their best, the Lakers can take it to anyone.

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Lakers could cause top seeds a problem

These same fans also argue that the Lakers going through the play-in tournament is bad for the top-seeded teams. For teams like Utah and Phoenix, laboring through the season to secure a top seed, only to face the defending NBA champions in the first round is a frightening prospect. However, these teams have shown their class when going up against the Lakers. Their main concern will be LeBron James, who turns it on to another level in the playoffs.

May 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) is defended by LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and center Ivica Zubac (40) in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Can LeBron James lead the Lakers back to the NBA Finals? He has a tough task ahead of him. Furthermore, there are concerns about his health, as his ankle isn’t healing the way fans hoped. So LeBron will have to do something in order to give the Lakers life in the post-season.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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