The Los Angeles Lakers have seven more games to play in the 2022-23 season with many teams crowded in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Lakers need to not only take care of business in their games but get help in other outcomes as well.
At the time of writing this, the Lakers are tied for the eighth-best record in the West with the New Orleans Pelicans. Los Angeles is one game behind the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves and 1.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors.
In a perfect world, the Lakers would win the final seven games of the season and guarantee a spot in at least the NBA Play-In Tournament. The world is not a perfect place, though, and some games take more precedent than others.
Ranking the final 7 games on the Lakers schedule by importance:
7. at Houston Rockets, April 2
The Houston Rockets are the easiest opponent the Lakers have left and although the team lost to Houston last time, it should be a victory for the purple and gold. LeBron James is back, Anthony Davis should play and Houston is very obviously committing to losing basketball games right now.
Losing this game doesn’t really hurt the Lakers as much as some of the other games, either, making it the least important of the bunch (but still very important).
6. at Chicago Bulls, March 29
The Chicago Bulls just handed a loss to the Lakers in LeBron James’ return on Sunday. Payback would be extremely sweet after the way Patrick Beverley acted but it doesn’t make this game any more important for playoff implications.
If there is one game that LA can really afford losing it is the lone game remaining against an Eastern Conference team. But of course, we still want to see a win.
5. vs Phoenix Suns, April 7
All seven of the remaining games are extremely important but the top five are on an entirely different level. The Phoenix Suns are potential playoff competition for the Lakers and this is the second-to-last game of the season, so there will be big implications.
When it comes to the standings and tiebreakers, losing to the Suns does not matter as much as the other teams on the schedule as LA likely has no chance of catching Phoenix in the standings anyway.
The Suns very well could have their place in the NBA Playoffs secured by this point, which could even give the Lakers an easier challenge at hand.
4. at Utah Jazz, April 4
The Utah Jazz are still lingering in the playoff picture and the Lakers might have the chance to completely kick them out of the equation in this game. Utah is currently 1.5 games back of the Lakers.
If LA can win all three of the games before this one then they might be able to guarantee a finish above Utah with a win here.
3. at Los Angeles Clippers, April 5
It is not likely to happen but there is a world in which the Clippers continue falling down the standings and find themselves battling for the sixth seed, potentially with the Lakers. After all, the Clippers are only two games ahead of the Lakers right now and have a tough schedule remaining.
The game will absolutely have implications either way but it could be made even more exciting if the Lakers can leapfrog the Clippers with a win over them in what is the third-to-last game of the season.
2. vs Utah Jazz, April 9
By this time the hope is that the Jazz are completely out of the picture. So what makes this the second-most important game remaining?
Well, it is the last game of the season and regardless of what happens, there are likely going to be big implications with how crowded the Western Conference is. There is a very real chance that the singular outcome of this game could drastically impact the Lakers’ playoff path.
1. at Minnesota Timberwolves, March 31
The Lakers’ most important game remaining is before the calendar even turns to April. Los Angeles takes on a much healthier Minnesota team that is directly in the way of the Lakers getting out of the play-in.
Minnesota is currently the seventh seed in the West and is one game ahead of the Lakers in the standings. Getting a head-to-head victory over Minnesota could completely flip things, especially if LA is taking care of business in the other games.
Unfortunately, a win over the Timberwolves does not change any sort of tiebreaker as the T-Wolves have beaten the Lake Show twice already this season. That is why it is so important to usurp Minnesota and gain an entire game over them with just one outcome.