The Los Angeles Lakers have been white hot as of late, winning seven out of their last eight games. Three of those wins have come against potential Western Conference playoff opponents. The biggest loss didn’t come in a game, though, as the Lakers lost Kobe Bryant for the rest of the season and maybe beyond to a ruptured Achilles.
With that said, the Lakers currently sit in the eighth spot in the West and they still have a chance to clinch the sixth seed even with all the tumult and chaos that has occurred in one of the most drama-filled seasons in NBA history.
Yes, you heard currently. The Lakers can STILL get the sixth seed and they may need it (or at least the seventh seed) if they want to make an impact in the playoffs without Kobe. If the Lakers stay in the eighth slot, they’ll have to play Oklahoma City in the first round, which even the most passionate Laker fan will say will be no easy out.
Here’s how the Lakers can get the sixth (or seventh) seed:
FOR SIXTH SEED:
Lakers defeat Houston + San Antonio defeats Golden State + Phoenix defeats Houston + Portland defeats Golden State
Golden State easily has the most difficult remaining schedule from the three teams. They have to play a Spurs team that is still fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West and despite Portland’s struggles this season, they’re a 22-18 home team and the Rose Garden is never an easy win for any team. The most unlikely event here is Phoenix defeating Houston, but hey, one can dream, right?
If all of these events happen, there will be a three-way tie for sixth place. All three teams will be 45-37. The tiebreaker? Better winning percentage in all games between the tied teams.
Assuming LA defeats HOU to force the tiebreaker:
HOU vs. GS and LA: 5-3
LAL vs. HOU and GS: 5-3
GS vs. LA and HOU: 2-6
Golden State will automatically take the eighth seed and take on the buzz saw that is OKC.
Houston and Los Angeles will then need to break their two-way tie. The tiebreaker here? Better conference record.
Assuming the above scenario occurs:
HOU will be 24-28 vs. West
LAL will be 28-24 vs. West
Thus, the Lakers take the sixth seed and take on Denver in the first round and the Rockets take the seventh seed.
Now, the Lakers are at a huge advantage here because they hold tiebreaker leads over both teams. This means that if either one of the two (Warriors or Rockets) collapses and the Lakers beat the Rockets on Wednesday, the Lakers will take the seventh spot and still possibly avoid OKC. (Unless, of course, San Antonio catches up and surpasses the Thunder. This is unlikely because the Thunder will have to lose to the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks for that to happen.)
With all of this mentioned, it’s safe to say that the Lakers aren’t thinking about the sixth seed heading into the final game. They’re just trying to get in. In recent memory, the Lakers haven’t been in this type of situation where we look at these NFL Week 17 type of formulas to determine whether the Lakers get in the show or not. However, it’s sure made for an exciting April and with the momentum the Lakers have heading into the playoffs, there’s no telling how far they can go.