How Lakers Could Still Finish as Seventh Seed, Explained

Things are looking pretty bleak for the Lakers right now after Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors, a game that took the team’s destiny into its own hands. Even if the Lakers win their remaining two games this weekend, they need help to climb back up the standings.

Even with only two match days remaining, there are so many possible scenarios that it quickly becomes confusing. This is largely due to the fact that four of the five teams vying for play-off places face each other on Friday.

The situation will be much clearer for the Lakers and everyone else after Friday’s games. For the Lakers, the best and most realistic scenario involves the Suns and Pelicans winning on Friday. In this scenario, assuming the Lakers win, the purple and gold would enter Sunday as the eighth seed and just need a win against New Orleans.

However, the absolute best-case scenario doesn’t involve these Friday results, but ends with the seventh-seeded Lakers. Is this realistic? No. Is it fun? Yes.

Here’s how it would break down:

Kings of Sacramento

Now let’s get the unrealistic part out of the way. The Lakers need the Kings to drop one of their final two games so they don’t find themselves in a tiebreaker with the Lakers at the end of the season.

However, they also need Phoenix to drop their final two games as they are two games ahead of the Lakers. These two things intersect because the Kings and Suns play Friday, which means the Lakers would need Sacramento to win this game and lose their final game.

That’s good on paper, but their final game of the season will be against the Blazers, a team that has lost eight of their last 10 games.

Now, if you want any glimmer of hope, the Blazers won the last meeting between the two teams in late December. And in the first game of the season between the two, they went to overtime.

But Portland is trying not to win and Sacramento has everything on the line. It’s just not a realistic scenario.

Phoenix Suns

This one is both simple and realistic. Phoenix needs to lose their final two games, so they are tied with the Lakers in which the purple and gold hold the tiebreaker.

As we’ve discussed, that implies the Suns lose to the Kings on Friday – easy to believe – and lose to the Timberwolves on Sunday, also easy to believe. Both are road games and I would go so far as to say that is the more likely outcome of the two games.

Warriors of the Golden State

Because they hold the tiebreaker against the Lakers, the Warriors also have to lose one of their final two games. Which game they lose — either Friday at home or Sunday at Utah — doesn’t matter.

Losing to New Orleans is not impossible, but the Warriors will be favorites. And Utah has been one of the worst teams in the league as of late. So you really need a Pelicans win on Friday.

If all of this comes true, the final play-in rankings would be

7. Lakers 47-35
8. Suns 47-35
9. Kings 46-34
10. Warriors 46-34 or 45-35

Again, it’s unlikely because of one outcome — Sacramento’s loss to Portland — but it’s not impossible. According to Basketball Reference’s playoff odds, the odds of the Lakers finishing the weekend as the No. 7 seed are 3%.

So you tell me there’s a chance…

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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