While this Los Angeles Lakers team had much loftier goals prior to the start of the season than obtaining something as insignificant as a low playoff seed, considering what they’ve been through, they thankfully find themselves with the opportunity to be in this position.
Take into consideration that a little more than 2 months ago the Lakers got shellacked by the Los Angeles Clippers on Valentine’s Day, 125-101, which dropped them to 25-29 on the season and were in the 10th spot in the Western Conference. There was real doubt at that time that this Lakers team would be able to turn things around in time to make a run of even making the playoffs, let alone fighting for seeding. Behind a much more focused and mobile Dwight Howard and determined Kobe Bryant, the Lakers did turn it around and went 19-8 the rest of the way.
The Lakers now find themselves with a shot to not only make the playoffs, but capture the 7th seed with a win over the Houston Rockets in the season finale on Wednesday. While the Lakers will have the advantage of home court, they will face a motivated team in the Rockets that will also be fighting for that same 7th seed.
A win for the Lakers tonight will raise their record to 45-37 for the season, identical to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers will own the tie breaker by way of their better conference record than the Rockets.
The 7th seed in the Western Conference is highly sought after for the fact that it means you’ll avoid playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 1st round, who clinched the top spot Monday night. The Lakers record against the #2 seeded San Antonio Spurs was 2-1 this season and 1-3 against the Thunder. The Rockets didn’t fare well against either team; they were 1-3 against the Spurs and 1-2 against the Thunder.
The Lakers might be playing for more than the 7th seed, if the Utah Jazz win in Memphis earlier in the night, the Lakers will be playing for their playoff lives, as a loss will mean the end of the Lakers season. The Rockets already clinching a playoff spot will do no worse than the 8th seed even if they lose Wednesday.
– Fern Rea