Lakers are likely to finish as the 7th seed, and could have to face off against Stephen Curry and the Warriors in the play-in tournament.
We have finally entered the last stage of the regular season. Unlike previous seasons, however, this stage of the campaign doesn’t bring monotony with it for the majority of the franchises in the league. No, instead, fans have been given the excitement of their team putting up incredible performances and some serious effort, all due to the introduction of the play-in tournament.
For those who may not be aware, this competition concerns the 4 teams between the 7th and 10th seed. At the end of the regular season, these franchises will face off against one another in a sudden death tournament.
More specifically, the 7th seed and 8th seed will first play against each other. The winner of this game will be awarded the 7th seed. The loser will have to play the winner of the game between the 9th and 10th seed. And whoever wins that game, will be awarded the 8th seed ahead of the playoffs.
That said, there are more than just 4 teams that are competing viciously for a play-in spot right now. So, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at their schedules, and predict the matchups for the Western Conference’s play-in tournament. Take a look.
Western Conference Play-in Tournament predictions
#1 LA Lakers (7th Seed) vs Golden State Warriors (8th Seed)
As fans know, this hasn’t quite been the LA Lakers’ best season. The team looks more fragile than intimidating at this stage of the season, having won just 2 of their last 10 games.
However, the franchise has a fairly easy schedule ahead of them as well. The team could find it difficult to grab the win against the Suns and the Knicks. But, games against the Rockets, Pacers and a wounded Pelicans team shouldn’t pose as too difficult of a challenge.
Congratulations to the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns on your best regular season performances in recent history! The reward for one of you is (likely) a first round match up against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the reigning champion Lakers! Enjoy!
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 8, 2021
So, while the franchise doesn’t have it in them to surpass the 6th seeded Blazers at this point, they will likely do well enough to grab the 7th seed.
The Golden State Warriors on the other hand, have been very encouraging during the final stages of this season. Despite being without Kelly Oubre Jr. and James Wiseman, the team has won 6 of its last 10 games. Adding to that, their schedule favors them greatly.
The Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns will likely prove too difficult to put away, despite the greatness of Stephen Curry. However, they will likely be good enough to pick up wins against OKC, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies. This would overall mean they would do well enough to clinch the 8th seed, giving us a tantalizing match for the 7th seed.
#2 Memphis Grizzlies (9th Seed) vs San Antonio Spurs (10th Seed)
The Grizzlies have been incredibly fun to watch, mostly because of the human highlight tendencies of Ja Morant. However, the team as a whole has also done very well this season, and deserve a berth in the playoffs.
The team’s schedule isn’t the best, to be honest. Their games against the Raptors and Pelicans are ones you can see the franchise dominating to a certain degree. However, a game against the Mavericks, and two games against the Kings, who have seen an uptake in their performances off-late, could prove to be a bit challenging.
However, we will win enough games to earn the 9th seed ahead of the play-in tournament.
The San Antonio Spurs on the other hand have been a bit lucky here. The franchise has been stumbling off late and was in danger of being usurped by the Pelicans. However, after reports revealed that Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram had suffered injuries, the chances of that happening plummeted.
And so, due to the lack of much real competition, the Spurs will likely finish the season as the 10th seed.
Both of these matchups are incredible to say the least. And if this is how the matchups end up, we can’t wait to see how the West play-in tournament shakes out ahead of the 2021 NBA playoffs.