The Los Angeles Lakers were able to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in their last game of the 2020-21 regular season, but that was not the main takeaway from the night.
The Lakers’ win was rendered meaningless after the Portland Trail Blazers defeated a Denver Nuggets team that was content with losing. Portland’s win ensured Los Angeles would finish seventh and have to participate in the Play-In Tournament, with their first game coming against a dangerous Golden State Warriors team on Wednesday night.
The Warriors were able to take eighth after beating the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the day, setting up what should be the most-anticipated Play-In Game of the tournament.
Anthony Davis did not seem rattled about the matchup, noting he and the Lakers will go out and do their best to lock up the seven-seed. “We control what we can control,” Davis said. “We won the last five? We did everything to put ourself in position to be sixth towards the end of the season. We were really relying on Portland to lose a game. They did what they had to do, so they’re at sixth and we’re at seventh.
“We’re going to face Golden State and we’re going to do everything we can to win that game to be the seventh seed in the playoffs.”
The 28-year-old also added that he believes the Lakers are more than capable of going on another run regardless of how poorly the regular season went to end up seventh.
“We’re not happy where we are. We know we could be better. Injuries took a toll on us this season. Me and Bron missing a lot of games this year with our injuries. When we’re healthy, we saw what we can be. When we’re not healthy, this is the position we’re in. We won’t call this successful until we raise a banner, but we’re in a position to do something special no matter what seed we’re in. It’s only unsuccessful if we don’t win it all.
“That’s how I view every year that I’ve been in the league. You can be first in the league or first in the West whatever … if you don’t win it all, you didn’t accomplish your main goal. That’s what I look at as a successful season.”
Davis and LeBron James recently did not seem concerned about the Play-In Tournament when asked about it previously and for good reason as the Purple and Gold have resembled themselves with everyone back in the lineup. The Lakers ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak and looked like they are in playoff form.
Golden State, however, is an opponent Los Angeles can not take lightly as they have been playing better basketball as of late. Stephen Curry is an offensive force who can single-handedly shoot the Warriors to a win, so the Lakers must be at their best if they hope to keep their spot.
Davis discussed challenges of facing Curry
The Lakers must feel some sort of pressure playing Curry in their first Play-In Game, and Davis acknowledged that he and the team must be focused on dealing with him if they want to earn a win.
“Scoring title. I think he’s averaging 32. He create problems for every team. His ability to shoot the basketball, get in the paint, make the team better, find guys is a challenge for everyone. So that’s going to be our focus. He’s the head of the snake. If we can limit him, three-point attempts and his free-throw attempts then we have a high chance of winning.
“Also their role players. Their guys are playing great. That team is rolling playing great basketball. We’re not going into this game thinking it’s going to be easy. It’s definitely going to be tough, but we know what we’re capable of and if we do things that we’re supposed to do then we should walk out of Staples [Center] with a W. It’s going to be fun trying to contain a guy who is an MVP candidate who just won a scoring title. It’s going to be fun for us and a test for our defense.”
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