July 12, 2024

After three days off the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night needing a win. The Lakers are entering the twilight stage of the 2023-24 season and every game matters for the Lakers as the playoff seeding is starting to get tight.

With the win on Friday and a Golden State Warriors loss, the Lakers moved into the ninth seed in the Western Conference. If this were to hold, it would give the Lakers a home game against the Warriors in the first round of the Play-In Tournament. However, the Lakers would still need to win two games in a row to get to the eighth seed.

What seed a team falls into with the Play-In Tournament really matters as being the eighth seed instead of the ninth seed can give a team two chances to make the playoffs instead of one. Despite the importance of this seeding, though, LeBron James confirmed a concerning reality after Friday’s game: the Lakers don’t care.

At some point, there is a positive in being Zen about the situation and only controlling what the team can control. Even if the Lakers win every single game the rest of the way there is no guarantee that they will jump the Sacramento Kings. Thus, Los Angeles just has to focus on controlling the controllable.

That being said, to not be worried about seeding at all is a concerning sign. This is not a case where there is no real difference between being the fifth seed and the sixth seed. There is a massive difference in each of the play-in seeds, and the Lakers need to fight for the best situation possible.

As a seventh seed, you get two home games, needing to win just one, in order to make the playoffs. As the 10th seed, you have to win back-to-back road games just to get into the eighth seed. Those two paths are vastly different.

And with how the Lakers have played this season, there is very little hope that the team would be able to win back-to-back do-or-die games if that is what is needed. Heck, the Kings have beaten the Lakers five games in a row, so even if the Lakers did get past the Warriors they would have very little hope of beating the Kings.

Los Angeles could also face the Suns or Mavericks depending on who ends up being the seventh seed and whether or not they lose to the Kings. Even that is an uphill battle, especially considering the Lakers still have to get past

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