With only one game left in the regular season, it is looking increasingly likely that the Los Angeles Lakers will be in the Play-In Tournament as the No. 7 seed in the West.
The Lakers could still potentially move up to No. 6 and avoid the Play-In Tournament if they beat the New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers. It doesn’t look like the Nuggets will do the Lakers any favors though as the expectation is this will rest key players to avoid facing the Lakers in the first round.
It’s hard to blame the Nuggets for that considering the Lakers were finally back at full strength in Saturday’s win over the Indiana Pacers and they are now looking like the favorites to win it all once again.
LeBron James, who played in his first game in a couple weeks, isn’t concerned about the potentially of being in the Play-In Tournament.
“Let the chips fall where they may. Simple as that. We’re ready to go,” James said after his 24-point, 7-rebound and 8-assist performance in his return.
The Lakers’ other star, Anthony Davis, echoed James’ sentiment when it comes to the Play-In Tournament.
“Same way. We’re ready to play whatever game. 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.”
Davis had 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the win over the Pacers as has been looking like one of the best players in the league over the last four games now that he’s fully healthy.
If the Lakers do end up seventh then they would play either the Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. While it wouldn’t be ideal to have to play an extra game, the Lakers’ lack of concern just shows where they’re at right now in their pursuit of another championship.
James will leave playing against Pelicans up to medical staff
If the Lakers want to move up to sixth then they absolutely have to beat the Pelicans on Sunday in their final game, which is the second of a back-to-back.
Considering James played on Saturday, his status for the game is up in the air. He says he’ll leave it up to the coaches and medical staff to decide if he can play.
“It’s up to Coach [Vogel] and our training staff. But obviously we know what we got to do to continue to get our body where it needs to be to play. But it’s up to the coaching staff and the training staff, our medical team, on what our workload looks like.”
Having already been eliminated from the postseason, the Pelicans will be sitting out all of their key players, so this is a game the Lakers should win with or without James.
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