Who do the Lakers really need to catch in the standings?
The Spurs are the first team to 50 wins. Great. Dallas is riding a seven-game win streak and are 9-1 over their last 10 games. Peachy. With about 20 games left in the regular season, the Lakers are currently third in the Western Conference standings, with Oklahoma City a near fourth. Both San Antonio and Dallas are two of the best road teams in the NBA, each with a 22-9 and 22-8 record, respectively.
Ideally it would be great if the Lakers could get the top seed, no question. Realistically even if the Lakers went on a tear and the injury to Tony Parker causes San Antonio’s record to fall slightly, they still have Dallas acting as a hurdle. If they could catch Dallas, or even tie, the Lakers would be awarded the second seed heading into the playoffs.
For one, it would place them in a different bracket than San Antonio and Oklahoma City. No doubt, the Lakers could beat either team, but let’s face it, with the Lakers player’s collective ages and the fact that they’ve played a ton of playoff games over the past three years—having to only face one of the two transition-offense heavy teams would be heaven sent.
Second, assume that Portland will be teetering between the five and six spots in the Western Conference standings. That last overtime win at the Rose Garden was encouraging, but the Lakers don’t want to face the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs, regardless of home-court.
Another great advantage to catching Dallas in the West is that the Mavs’ record is near identical to that of the Celtics. If the Lakers are planning on getting through the West to the Finals, they’ll either meet Miami or Boston. Boston currently is atop the East, with a few weeks left to go. If the Lakers can catch them, they’ll have home-court for the Finals. That trumps all.