The Los Angeles Lakers are currently making a run up the Western Conference standings to earn a playoff berth and the chance to do something special in the NBA Playoffs. As bad as this season has been at times, nobody in the wide-open West wants to play this team while healthy.
The Lake Show came away with a huge victory on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns. While the Lakers are not directly competing with the Suns for a playoff spot, it was a nice litmus test for the team to play against the favorite in the conference.
With every single game mattering immensely down the stretch, the playoff picture has been shifting by the day. Here is how things currently stand after that big Lakers win.
NBA playoff picture:
As a reminder, seeds one though six automatically get a playoff berth while seeds seven through 10 have to play in the Play-In Tournament. There is a huge advantage in getting the seventh or eighth seed as that gives a team two chances to make it into the playoffs.
- Denver Nuggets
- Memphis Grizzlies, 3.5 GB
- Sacramento Kings, 5.5 GB
- Phoenix Suns, 10.5 GB
- Los Angeles Clippers, 11 GB
- Golden State Warriors, 11.5 GB
- Minnesota Timberwolves, 12.5 GB
- Oklahoma City Thunder, 12.5 GB
- Dallas Mavericks, 13 GB
- Los Angeles Lakers, 13 GB
- Utah Jazz, 13.5 GB
- New Orleans Pelicans, 13.5 GB
The other three teams in the West are irrelevant. Portland is 3.5 games back of a play-in spot with 10 games left to play while the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets are out of the picture entirely and are more focused on losing games.
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Boston Celtics, 2.5 GB
- Philadelphia 76ers, 3 GB
- Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 GB
- New York Knicks, 11 GB
- Brooklyn Nets, 13 GB
- Miami Heat, 13 GB
- Atlanta Hawks, 16.5 GB
- Toronto Raptors, 17.5 GB
- Chicago Bulls, 18 GB
- Indiana Pacers, 19.5 GB
- Washington Wizards, 20.5 GB
The Orlando Magic are 4.5 games back of making a play-in spot as the 13th seed, so that is probably where we can draw the line in the East.
NBA Playoffs matchups if the season ended today:
If the season were to hold with the exact same results, this is how the first round would look for each of the two conferences.
- Nuggets vs 8th seed (Winner of Timberwolves-Thunder loser vs. Lakers-Mavericks winner)
- Grizzlies vs 7th seed (winner of Timberwolves vs Thunder)
- Kings vs Warriors
- Suns vs Clippers
- Bucks vs 8th seed (Winner of Heat-Hawks loser vs. Raptors-Bulls winner)
- Celtics vs 7th seed (winner of Heat vs Hawks)
- 76ers vs Nets
- Cavaliers vs Knicks
Lakers playoff path if the season ended today:
If the season were to hold with its current standings then the first step in the Lakers’ quest would be to play the Dallas Mavericks in the play-in. If Los Angeles lost that game then the season would be over. However, a win would not guarantee a playoff spot.
Los Angeles would then play the loser of the Timberwolves and Thunder. The winner of that game would become the eighth seed in the West while the loser would pack their bags and go home.
In this route, it would set the Lakers up with a first-round playoff matchup against the Denver Nuggets. Might as well get the no. 1 seed out the way first, right? If the Lakers were to somehow win that series, they would then play the winner of the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers.
That is about as hard of a first two rounds as you can imagine. Thus, it is imperative that the Lakers can at least become the seventh or eighth seed so they have a chance to win the first play-in game and become the seventh seed instead.
In that situation, the Lakers would play the Grizzlies in round one and the winner of the Kings-Warriors in round two. That is a much easier path to get to the Conference Finals.