Can the LeBron James-Led Lakers Avoid The NBA Play-In Tournament?

Published 05/10/2021, 11:30 AM EDT
Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and teammates react during the fourth quarter of a game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports


The Los Angeles Lakers were the #1 seed in the Western Conference last season. They were expected to repeat those performances, but now with four games left, they are stuck in a play-in tournament spot. They are currently the seventh seed and are one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers. But what is the play-in tournament?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In order to make it fair to all teams, the NBA introduced a play-in tournament last season. The tournament was a hit, which is why they’ve continued it this season too, but with some tweaks. The seventh and eighth seed will play a game, and the winner will take the seventh seed. The loser will then play the winner of the game between the ninth and the tenth seed. This winner will get the eighth seed for the playoffs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

If the Lakers enter the play-in, they will have to face the Warriors led by red-hot Stephen Curry. It is certainly a matchup they would like to avoid because anything can happen in just a one-game series, especially while facing Curry. And if they have another upset loss, they will be eliminated. So Lakers fans are hoping to see their team avoid the play-in somehow. But is it possible? Yes, it is, but it won’t be easy.

Lakers have to do their best but also rely on the Blazers

The Lakers are currently battling for the sixth seed with the Blazers. The Blazers are in action today as they face the Rockets, which will be an easy game for them. But that will be followed by three tough games against the Jazz, Suns, and the Nuggets. Meanwhile, the Lakers will now face the Knicks, Rockets, Pacers, and the Pelicans in their remaining games.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

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

Since the Lakers lost the season series against the Blazers, they will stay behind if their record is tied. So the Lakers need the Blazers to lose at least two games, and they will have to win all four of their games. In that case, the Lakers will be ahead by one game and will advance as the sixth seed. However, if the Blazers win at least three out of their four games, the Lakers will be forced to enter the play-in tournament.

Mar 16, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) celebrate with teammates after a 125-124 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately for LA, the Blazers remaining schedule strength is ranked 8/30 while theirs is 24/30. So unless the Blazers play out of their skins and get upset wins, there is a good chance the Lakers can avoid the play-in tournament, provided they themselves don’t falter.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

DIVE DEEPER

Anthony Davis’ Recent Form Shows Why Lakers Fans Shouldn’t Be Worried About Standings

5 months ago

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Aaron Mathew

1666 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT