The Los Angeles Lakers quickly wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference during the NBA restart, which has further allowed head coach Frank Vogel to experiment with various rotations and minutes.
This is the first time since the 2009-10 season that the Lakers secured the top seed and it only took them three games in the bubble to do so. LeBron James has said health was a priority for Los Angeles, but he also wanted the team to finish strong and hit one of their goals.
While the Lakers know where they stand heading into the playoffs, who their opponent in the first round will be has yet to be determined as the race for the eighth seed remains tight. Some teams — such as the Portland Trail Blazers — are thought to be a more difficult matchup for the Lakers.
Vogel naturally declined to reveal which opponent he would prefer to face, and also made it clear the teams in contention for the play-in are plenty talented.
“You know I won’t go there. I will say all these teams that are competing for that eighth spot, I don’t believe we’re going to get a typical eight seed in that matchup,” he said. “The West is loaded, there’s a lot of good teams in there, and we’re going to get a team with some serious firepower.”
As things currently stand, the Memphis Grizzlies would face the Trail Blazers in a play-in to determine the Lakers’ opponent. However, the San Antonio Spurs and surging Phoenix Suns remain in the picture as well.
The eight seed only needs to win one game to keep their spot, while the ninth-place team would need to win consecutive games to overtake them.
Anthony Davis not overlooking potential first round opponent
While Davis is confident in the Lakers’ ability to defeat anyone, he similarly is not going to take whoever they play in the first round lightly. “It doesn’t matter to me,” he said.
“Whoever we’re going to see in the eight seed, we’re going to respect them and try to go out and win that series.”
Up until Sunday, it was possible Davis and the Lakers would see his former team. However, with the New Orleans Pelicans losing to the Spurs, and the Trail Blazers defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
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