Warriors may kickstart Lakers' biggest nightmare

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers-Golden State Warriors rivalry has been a great one to watch in recent years. With a matchup in the NBA Play-In Tournament as well as the NBA Playoffs, LeBron James and Stephen Curry have squared off in some high-stakes games in the Western Conference.

There will be a new addition to the rivalry on Saturday as the Lakers are hosting the Warriors coming off an ugly loss to the Sacramento Kings. Both teams desperately need a win, with the Lakers and Warriors being ninth and 10th in the West, respectively.

While there are still more games to play after Saturday's affair, this is a big game, particularly for the purple and gold. This is as much of a must-win as a March game can be for an NBA team, as a Warriors win would be demoralizing and could set off a series of events that do not end well.

Warriors may kickstart Lakers' biggest nightmare with a win

The Warriors beating the Lakers on Saturday would do a couple of things as far as the standings are concerned. Golden State is currently the 10th seed in the conference and a win would put them ahead of the Lakers for the ninth seed.

The two teams would be tied in the standings with the same record but the Warriors would have the tiebreaker advantage with two wins to one. If the Lakers win, they would establish a two-game cushion and ensure that the Warriors cannot win the head-to-head tiebreaker this season.

While there would be plenty of time for the Lakers to jump out in front, the next stretch of games do not forecast to go very well for the team. Los Angeles is not hosting pushovers as this homestand continues and then the team embarks on a road trip that will test the will of the locker room.

A loss to the Warriors on Saturday, particularly if it comes in back-breaking fashion, could set off a series of events that do not end well for the Lakers. Los Angeles may dig into an even larger rut as the 10th seed and with how hot the Houston Rockets are, they could even fall out of the play-in altogether.

The Lakers play the Warriors again in the third-to-last game of the year but that could be Golden State's chance to cement the Lakers as a lower seed. If the Lakers lose and things spiral, then the Warriors would almost certainly lock things up with another win to clinch the season tiebreaker.

And if the Lakers are the 10th seed in the West then they are not going to make the playoffs, plain and simple. This team has been awful on the road this season (12-20 record) and the odds of the team winning back-to-back elimination road games is slim.

Plus, even if that happens, the Lakers would then be in line to play the Denver Nuggets in the first round (assuming they continue to play well). Both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves are beatable in the first round for the Lakers. The Nuggets, without a doubt, are not.

The Lakers would have to climb into the eighth seed to have a chance at being the seventh seed but the team does not even have the luxury of trying to carve out the path of least resistance. Right now, the Lakers have to just worry about getting to the dance first and that starts with a win over the Warriors on Saturday.

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