Despite Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers winning their final five games of the regular season, they wound up as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference standings. In any other year, this would not be a big deal, but in 2021 it means they’ll have to take part in the first full-scale Play-In Tournament.
The Lakers will take on Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. The winner of the individual game will earn the No. 7 seed for the playoffs. The loser will take part in a win-or-go-home game against either the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs for the No. 8 seed.
Davis is viewing Wednesday’s Play-In Game as a Game 7, even if technically they would not be eliminated with a loss.
“I think it is a pretty big game,” Davis said. “From the standpoint of what I just said. You get three days in between games to rest and get right for your next series. I think it is beneficial to us to absolutely to win that game. It is a big game playing Steph Curry and the [Golden State] Warriors and it’s always a tough matchup when you are playing those guys when Steph is playing.
“We look at it as a Game 7 for sure. You play these guys one time in the Play-In Tournament, so we look at it as a Game 7 for sure. It’s a must-win for us.”
Regardless of whether the Lakers finish at No. 7 or No. 8, Game 1 of the first round would take place on Sunday. This is even further incentive for Davis to get a win on Wednesday.
“We know obviously it’s like a one-game thing right now. We can’t afford to lose this game. I’m pretty sure they’re thinking the same thing even though it is double elimination on our side.
“We definitely want to get in that seventh seed and I think the game we will play is Sunday, so you get a couple days off to really lock in on your opponent and get a couple more practice days in to tighten our screws since we haven’t been having a lot of games with practices with a full healthy team. It’ll be very beneficial for us to win this game tomorrow and have those three days in between games to kind of tighten up the screws.”
Treating the Play-In Game like a Game 7 is necessary if the Lakers want to gear up for a deep playoff run. Being the No. 8 seed would not only put them on the more difficult side of the bracket, but it would also put them at a significant rest disadvantage against the No. 1 seeded Utah Jazz.
By winning Wednesday, they would still have three full days of rest before Game 1 against the Phoenix Suns. For a team that has dealt with injuries all season long, any rest days they can get are imperative.
Hopefully, Davis and the Lakers can use the motivation of extra rest, potential elimination, and an easier side of the bracket to put the Warriors away early.
Davis says Curry is most dangerous off the ball
As an early preview into the mindset of the Lakers preparing to defense Curry, Davis spoke about what makes him so dangerous and what they’ll need to do to be successful against him.
“Always keep an eye on him. He’s most dangerous when he’s off the ball,” Davis said. “He gives the ball up to his big or guard and he’s running around. Usually when a guy gives the ball up, the defensive player tends to relax. That’s when he’s most dangerous. We got to make sure we keep an eye on him and stay locked in on him at all times.”
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