With the Lakers currently holding a .5 game lead over the Clippers for the Pacific Division title and No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, any combination of two Lakers wins or Clippers losses will do the job for the Purple and Gold.
LAL (40-26) finishes its regular season schedule with a home game at Oklahoma City (Sunday) and road game at Sacramento (Thursday), while the Clippers (39-26) face New Orleans at home before traveling to Atlanta and New York.
Should the teams end up with the same record, the Lakers will get the nod, as they defeated the Clippers 2-1 in the season series and therefore own the tiebreaker.
- If the Clippers go 3-0, LAL must go 2-0 to clinch the No. 3 seed
- If the Clippers go 2-1, LAL can go 1-1 to clinch the No. 3 seed
- If the Clippers go 1-2, LAL can go 0-2 to win the Pacific*
- If the Clippers go 0-3, LAL automatically finishes ahead of LAC
*Stay tuned for how Memphis could sneak into the No. 3 seed.
It’s not out of the question for Memphis to leap ahead of the Lakers or the Clippers, however, as the 39-25 Grizzlies have two very winnable home games left against Cleveland and Orlando. That said, both the Lakers and Clippers have the tiebreaker over Memphis, so the Grizz would need the Lakers to lose both games while winning out, and the Clippers to lose two of three to move up.
In short: should the Lakers win one game and the Clippers win two, Memphis stays locked into the No. 5 seed.
Mavs/Nuggets Battle for No. 6 Seed
Whichever team clinches the No. 3 seed will face either Dallas (36-29) or Denver (35-28). Phoenix and Utah have no chance of grabbing the No. 6 seed, because even if the Mavericks lose their final game to match 30 losses of the Suns and Jazz, Dallas owns the tiebreaker over each. Alternatively, if Denver wins out and Dallas loses its final game, the Nuggets would have two fewer losses than Phoenix or Utah. Here are the remaining schedules in the push for the No. 6 slot:
Denver: ORL, @OKC, @MIN
Atlanta is essentially locked into the No. 5 seed with home court over Boston; the Celtics are the No. 4 having won the Atlantic Division, but have two more losses than Atlanta after their reserve-laden squad lost to Atlanta last night. In other words, the Hawks may not share the motivation of the Mavs in that final game.
If the Mavs do win in Atlanta, Denver would still have to go 3-0, since Dallas owns the tiebreak between the two. If Dallas should lose again, Denver can go 2-1. The Lakers could influence these proceedings as well, because if they beat OKC on Sunday, the Thunder have less incentive in their home game against Denver, since San Antonio will have a big edge for the top seed.
Should be fun … stay tuned!