Despite loss to Pacers, Lakers still get big boost in playoff seeding

Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

With fewer than 10 games remaining in the 2023-24 regular season, every outcome is extremely important for the Los Angeles Lakers. That is what made Friday night's loss to the Indiana Pacers even worse, as the Lakers' growing momentum came to a halt with an ugly loss.

The offense simply was not clicking despite having both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the lineup. Los Angeles only scored 90 points against an awful defensive team. The Lakers shot 40.7% from the field and 16.7% from three.

While every loss at this point in the season is painful and hurts the Lakers' chances of climbing up the Western Conference, the team still did get a boost on Friday night. Both the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns (eighth and seventh seed, respectively) also lost on Friday night. Additionally, the Kings suffered a huge blow that may result in them sliding down the standings over these final two weeks.

Kings getting banged up helps the Lakers' playoff seeding

Injuries are never something to root for in the NBA and it is a real bummer to see such an impactful player like Malik Monk go down during the most important part of the season. The fact remains, however, that the Kings being short-handed does help the Lakers.

Monk is not the only Kings rotation player who is banged up as Kevin Huerter has been confirmed to be out for the rest of the year. Sacramento is without two significant rotation players while the Lakers are getting their previously-injured players back in the fold.

The Suns have the toughest remaining strength of schedule in the entire league as seven of the team's eight remaining games are against teams with a winning percentage above .600. The eighth game is against the Kings. Phoenix is 22-23 against teams above .500 this season.

Sacramento, meanwhile, has the fifth-toughest remaining strength of schedule. Sacramento has to play the top seed in both conferences with a remaining game against Boston and Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles has the sixth-easiest remaining strength of schedule and for the first time all season, has the health advantage. There may not be many games remaining, but it is absolutely possible for the Lakers to overcome the 1.5-game gap between LA and Sacramento for the eighth seed.

Sacramento does own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, so Los Angeles would have to finish one game better, but it is still possible. And if the Lakers can do that it would bode very well for the team's playoff chances.

LeBron James may not care about seeding, but being the eighth seed instead of the ninth seed is huge. That would give the Lakers two chances to win one game to make the NBA Playoffs. If the Lakers are the ninth seed then they would have to win back-to-back do-or-die games.

And as good as the Lakers have looked recently, nights like Friday are always possible. Having to win two do-or-die games in a row is not a great position to be in.