Following the conclusion of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers wound up in the seventh seed in the Western Conference. As such, they will host the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first play-in game on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:00 pm PT. The game will be televised on ESPN and can be streamed on ESPN-Plus.
The Lakers finished the season with a record of 42-30, tied for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, but fell to seventh due to tiebreakers. The Warriors clinched the eighth seed via a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on the final night of the regular season, finishing with a 39-33 record, one game ahead of Memphis.
The winner of the game between the Lakers and Warriors will be the seventh seed and face the second-seed Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The loser of the contest will have one more chance to make the final field, hosting the winner of the game between the ninth-seeded Grizzlies and the tenth-seed San Antonio Spurs. The winner of that contest will be the eighth seed and take on the top-seed Utah Jazz.
This season, the Lakers had the advantage over the Warriors winning two of the three contests between the two teams. The Lakers’ victories came by margins of 26 and 31 points while the Warriors’ victory was by just two points in a contest the Lakers lead by double-digits going into the final quarter.
Injuries have been a major factor for both of these teams during this season. The Lakers were without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis for a large portion of the year. The Warriors, meanwhile, missed Klay Thompson for the entire season while top prospect James Wiseman is also out for the year.
The Warriors do still have two-time MVP Stephen Curry, who led the NBA in scoring this season at 32 points per game. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole also provide some offensive punch while three-time All-Star Draymond Green provides a lot as a playmaker and defensive presence.
Both teams also come into the contest on big win streaks as the Lakers have won five consecutive games while the Warriors have won six straight.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis not concerned about play-in tournament
Obviously, the Lakers would have preferred to not be in the play-in tournament and LeBron James himself has expressed his displeasure with the concept recently. But with it being the reality, the team isn’t concerned with it.
“Let the chips fall where they may. Simple as that. We’re ready to go,” James said following the Lakers’ victory over the Indiana Pacers in the second-to-last game of the season. Fellow superstar Anthony Davis echoed those feelings.
“Same way. We’re ready to play whatever game,” Davis said following the Pacers win. “If it’s playoffs where we’re the 6 seed or got to play in the Play-In as the seventh seed, we don’t care.
“It’s not gonna stop us one or the other which way we do to take our mind off our goal. It’s not gonna give us any discouragement that we’re not in the top six. We don’t really care, we can control what we can control and that’s winning this last ballgame and like he said, let the chips fall where they may.”