The Los Angeles Lakers went into the All-Star break on a positive note when they picked up a big win over the Utah Jazz.
While the victory was much-needed, the Lakers have much more work to do as they are currently in the nine seed in the Western Conference standings. If things stand, Los Angeles would need to win two games in the Play-In Tournament in order to secure their playoff spot.
Head coach Frank Vogel admitted the team is not where it would like to but believes they have enough time to get right.
“We’re not where we want to be in the standings but we’re committed to this stretch run and the key with all of the playoff participants is to be playing your best basketball and peaking at the right time and that opportunity is still well within reach. We got to use these last 24 games to achieve that,” Vogel said after Thursday’s practice.
As far as goals, Vogel kept things simple for the players. “Win as many games as we can,” Vogel said. “We know exactly where we are in the standings, we’re six games from the 6-spot, 3.5 back from the 7-spot and 1.5 back from the 8-spot.
“We know that the goal will be to get to the top six, that’s a longshot but still within reach if we come out strong. and if we’re not able to get that then getting in that first Play-In Game, first Play-In Game is double elimination while the 9-10 game is single elimination. So every game is gonna matter, we want to move up as much as we can in the standings, but more importantly than all of that, we want to play our best basketball down the stretch and peak going into the postseason for playoff series’ or games.”
Vogel previously said being six games behind the top-6 was a big gap, which means the Lakers would need to string together a good amount of wins to have any shot of closing it. Mathematically, it seems likely Los Angeles remains in the Play-In Tournament, but if the team is able to get fully healthy before then they have a great chance of securing a postseason appearance.
Magic Johnson hopes for strong finish to 2021-22 season
For most of the season, Vogel had trouble trying to figure out ways to best optimize his roster. However, he eventually leaned into a small ball identity focused on pushing the pace and switching defensively. Magic Johnson believes the Lakers figured out the best way to play and hopes they finish the regular season strong.
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