The Los Angeles Lakers close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon, hosting the Utah Jazz at Crypto.com Arena.
The Lakers have already clinched a winning season, becoming the first team since 2004-05 to finish above .500 after starting 2-10 or worse.
There still is a lot of stake in this game, however, as the Lakers need a win to ensure they will be seventh in the West, which would allow them to host their Play-In Tournament games instead of going on the road. There is a slight chance the Lakers move up to sixth and out of the Play-In Tournament entirely, although that would require some help from the Portland Trail Blazers against the Golden State Warriors which is extremely unlikely.
Even though the Jazz have been eliminated from postseason contention though, the Lakers cannot take them lightly. The Lakers learned that the hard way this past week when it took overtime to beat the Jazz on the road with them blowing a 10-point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation.
Given what is at stake here though, look for the Lakers to come out with a sense of urgency and put the Jazz away early so their stars can get some much-needed rest. The first Play-In Tournament game will take place on Tuesday night, so it would be a very quick turnaround for L.A.
This is the Jazz’s final game and they are playing a bunch of young guys that have nothing to lose though, so if the Lakers let them hang around then it could be trouble.
Utah is without key guys such as Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson. Former Laker Talen Horton-Tucker has been playing great in recent weeks though and would surely love to get some revenge against L.A.
On the Lakers side of things, they’re as healthy as they’ve been all season although Dennis Schroder is missing his second consecutive game due to right Achilles soreness.
Los Angeles Lakers (42-39) vs. Utah Jazz (36-45)
12:30 p.m. PT, April 9, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: LeBron James
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Malik Beasley, Wenyen Gabriel, Lonnie Walker IV
Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:
PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Ochai Agbaji
SF: Luka Sananic
PF: Udoka Azubuike
C: Kelly Olynyk
Key Reserves: Damian Jones, Juan Toscan-Anderson, Simone Fontecchio
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