As the NBA regular season draws to a close, the collective focus for the Los Angeles Lakers and the rest of the league is shifting towards the postseason.
The Lakers had a tough road to win the historic organization’s 17th championship last year in the Orlando bubble, but after an injury-plagued 2020-21 season, the road to defend the title is shaping up to be even tougher.
As things currently stand, the Lakers are the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. If they win both of their final two games and either of the Portland Trail Blazers or Dallas Mavericks lose their final two then they could avoid the Play-In Tournament by moving up to No. 5 or 6.
The likelihood of that happening isn’t high though, making it increasingly possible that the Lakers will have to play their way into the postseason.
If that is the case then after the conclusion of the regular season on Sunday night, the Lakers would then have a couple of days to rest before taking on the No. 8 seed on Wednesday night:
The Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies are currently tied for the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds and happen to play each other on the final day of the regular season. The winner of that game would go on to play the Lakers, if they stay at 7, and the loser would play the San Antonio Spurs in the 9/10 matchup.
If the Lakers win on Wednesday night then they would enter the postseason as the No. 7 seed, likely matching up with the Phoenix Suns in the first round. If they lose though then they would play the winner of the 9/10 game in a win-or-go-home contest.
Vogel to make personnel decisions based on standings
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is in a peculiar position when it comes to the final two games against the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday and Sunday.
While the team is still working key players back from injury, it also remains to be seen what the standings implications will be when they take the court with so many games going on at the same time.
There is potential that Sunday night’s game will have no meaning in the standings by the time the Lakers take the court if the Mavericks and Trail Blazers each win a game. If that is the case then Vogel and his staff will decide if it’s appropriate to sit players for rest or play everyone to build at least some continuity during a turbulent season.
“We’re really gonna make those decisions the day of game. Obviously we’d like to get as much time with these guys on the floor together that we can. But obviously if the last game is meaningless then we’ll make the call at that point, whether it’s more important to get some time together or to rest up for whatever is next. We’ll just make those decisions day of game.”
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