This could get really interesting. The Lakers have played like hot garbage over their last few games, even with LeBron James and Anthony Davis returning to their lineup.
They find themselves currently 6th in the West, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better anytime soon. According to Shams, Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder is now expected to miss 10 to 14 days due to health and safety protocols.
For a team already struggling with chemistry and getting back healthy, more players going in and out of the lineup certainly won’t help.
So, assuming Portland doesn’t completely implode down the stretch, the Lakers will likely fall into play-in territory. This got me thinking: What would the best “play-in” matchups look like?
First, in the West, you have eight teams that could legitimately find themselves in the play-in. The 5-7 spots in the West all have the same record. As of now the play-in order goes like this:
- 7th - Portland
- 8th - Memphis
- 9th - Golden State
- 10th - San Antonio
The most interesting matchups would have to come from mixing and matching these four teams.
- 7th - Dallas (currently 5th)
- 8th - L.A. Lakers (currently 6th)
- 9th - Golden State (currently 9th)
- 10th - New Orleans (currently 11th)
Luka, Zion, LeBron, and Steph are a no-brainer when it comes to fan interest.
Or... you could put Dame Time and Portland in with Ja Morant and Memphis still gets some really good basketball, but everyone knows it wouldn’t beat the first set of matchups.
The gap between 7 and 8 in the standings likely won’t let the first scenario happen but as long as the Spurs and Kings don’t make it into the play-in I’d be okay as an NBA fan.
As for the East, the main objective should be keeping LaMelo Ball in the Play in by any means necessary. He’s by far the most intriguing storyline coming out of the East and seeing him and his Charlotte squad get a chance at the playoffs would be fun. Boston and Miami are currently battling to stay out of the play-in, which is ironic considering that both of those teams played in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
Currently, the order is as follows.
- 7th - Boston
- 8th - Charlotte
- 9th - Indiana
- 10th - Washington
In the East 5-7 are all within one game of each other. So that not only brings Miami into play but also the Hawks. Just think about if Trae Young and LaMelo matchup in the play-in game. Similar to the West, the gap between the 7th and 8th seed is likely too big to get Boston, Miami, and Atlanta into the play-in.
It would be great if we could get this:
- 7th - Miami (currently 6th)
- 8th - Boston (currently 7th)
- 9th - Atlanta (currently 5th)
- 10th - Charlotte (currently 8th)
I just don’t want to see both Indiana and Toronto (currently in 11th) in the play-in. That would wreck my viewing experience. If the East stays how it is I wouldn’t be mad but if the impossible happens and we can get Miami, Boston, and Atlanta in with Charlotte that would be fun.
The NBA play-in will likely give us some exciting moments this season in its inaugural year. It’s already made many people around the league pretty mad so that’s how you know the competition should be lit.
We only have about two weeks left in the regular season so we’ll see how this works itself out.