NBA playoff tracker: Lakers still need help entering final day of regular season

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Yahoo Sports 16 May, 2021 - 12:15am 30 views

When is the NBA play in tournament?

When is the NBA Play-In Tournament? The Play-In Tournament will begin Tuesday, May 18, two days after the end of the regular season on May 16. The last game of the tournament will be May 21, with the first round of the NBA playoffs tipping off May 22. NBC ChicagoNBA Play-In Tournament 2021: Rules, Dates and TV Schedule

What is NBA play in?

At the end of the 2020-21 NBA regular season, but prior to the first round of the postseason, the NBA will be conducting a play-in tournament. The tournament will be used to determine the final two playoff spots. Sports IllustratedHow Does the NBA Play-In Tournament Work?

Who has tiebreaker between Portland and Lakers?

The Mavs do have a tiebreaker advantage over the Lakers. Portland: Has tiebreakers over the Lakers and Mavericks. Will avoid the play-in tournament with a win over the Nuggets, and will only fall into the play-in tournament with a loss and two wins from the Lakers. LeBron WireHow the Lakers can avoid the NBA's new play-in tournament

Where is the NBA play in tournament?

Where will the NBA Play-In Tournament be held? With the COVID-19 vaccines continuing rolling out, the NBA has no plans to bring back the bubble. The Play-In Tournament will be held at home arenas, with the highest-winning percentage teams hosting each game. NBC4 WashingtonNBA Play-In Tournament 2021: Schedule, Rules and Format

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

1. Philadelphia 76ers (48-23)

2. Brooklyn Nets (47-24, 1 GB)

3. Milwaukee Bucks (46-25, 2 GB)

4. New York Knicks (40-31, 8 GB)

5. Atlanta Hawks (40-31, 8 GB)

6. Miami Heat (39-32, 9 GB)

7. Boston Celtics (36-35, 12 GB)

8. Charlotte Hornets (33-38, 15 GB)

9. Washington Wizards (33-38, 15 GB)

10. Indiana Pacers (33-38, 14.5 GB)

1. Utah Jazz (51-20)

2. Phoenix Suns (50-21, 1 GB)

3. Denver Nuggets (47-24, 4 GB)

4. Los Angeles Clippers (47-24, 4 GB)

5. Dallas Mavericks (42-29, 9 GB)

6. Portland Trail Blazers (41-30, 10 GB)

7. Los Angeles Lakers (41-30, 10 GB)

8. Golden State Warriors (38-33, 13 GB)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (38-33, 13 GB)

10. San Antonio Spurs (33-38, 18 GB)

The Lakers still need some help to avoid the play-in tournament, where the Golden State Warriors potentially await, but they got pretty much everything they could want in the penultimate day of the regular season.

After missing six straight games due to a nagging ankle issue, LeBron James again returned to the court and looked impressive against the Indiana Pacers. In 28 minutes, James posted 24 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds in a 122-115 win.

What else is there to stay about Julius Randle? He's a bona fide star, the Knicks are good and it's hard to think of a season in recent history in which this team was more joyful to watch.

Randle's line for an overtime win against the Hornets: 33 points (12-of-25 shooting), 13 assists and 10 rebounds. 

There will be 15 games and plenty still on the line in the final day of the regular season. While the playoff and play-in fields in the East are already decided, the West has quite a bit to figure out.

The whole situation basically revolves around the Lakers, currently tied with the Blazers at 41-30 but in seventh place due to the tiebreaker. The Blazers clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Nuggets (9 p.m. ET), while the Lakers get that sixth-place spot with a win over the Pelicans (9 p.m. ET) and Blazers loss.

The shadow of the Lakers looms over the higher part of the standings as well, as the Clippers and Nuggets will basically be playing to see who doesn't have to face the defending champs. Both teams sit at 47-24 in a tie for third place, with the Nuggets holding a tiebreaker. A Nuggets win guarantees a matchup with the Blazers or Lakers, while the Clippers can clinch a series against the Mavericks with a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (9 p.m. ET).

Both conferences also have key games to decide the play-in matches. Buckle up.

There were plenty of moments worth highlighting — Tamika Catchings inspiring, Vanessa Bryant eulogizing — but it was a man who wasn't being inducted (yet) who may have received the best tribute.

Tim Duncan's induction speech was naturally going to mention Gregg Popovich missed the Spurs' game on Saturday to watch the enshrinement of his greatest player. Duncan took the crowd all the way back to when he was drafted to show what kind of man Popovich is:

The end came at 19 seconds of a wild second round, capping a remarkable crazy fight.

Vanessa displayed a depth and insight not even Kobe would’ve stated himself while also giving us the same self-assured bravado Kobe definitely would’ve said, or at least believed.

Even if they land in the play-in tournament, you know Lakers fans are going to eat this news up.

New Orleans (31-40) wraps up its regular season at home against the defending champion Lakers (41-30).

We will never see another Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction like the Class of 2020.

The Warriors can go in a lot of different directions based on how things play out Sunday.

Anthony Davis said it "would have been a dream" if he'd heard Kobe Bryant say one particular thing to him.

Here's what needs to happen for the Lakers to avoid the play-in tournament.

Tim Duncan may be the most underrated legend of the game ever.

Marv Albert is reportedly calling it a career nearly 60 years after he called his first Knicks game.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is known as “the gentle art,” but there was nothing gentle about the way that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza lost on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston in the featured preliminary bout of UFC 262.

The Miami pick can finish from No. 17 to No. 20; Milwaukee from No. 24 to No. 27; and Portland from No. 19 to No. 23, if in the playoffs.

Pujols' new home isn't far from his old one.

If Portland beats Denver Sunday the Lakers are the seven seed, but the door is open and the Los Angeles has a chance.

Brazilian Charles Oliveira mounted a superb comeback to score a second-round knockout victory over American Michael Chandler to win the UFC lightweight title in the main event of UFC 262 in Houston, Texas on Saturday. Fighting for the title left vacant by the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov last October, Oliveira escaped an early guillotine choke attempt and took Chandler's back, but the 35-year-old former Bellator champion was able to escape and land a string of powerful punches to leave Oliveria hanging on at the end of the first frame. He collected himself in the break and came out strong again, dropping Chandler with a sweet left hook and following up with powerful strikes to force referee Dan Miragliotta to call a halt to the contest 19 seconds into the second round.

Dwight Howard received his 16th technical during Thursday's game against the Heat.

The UFC heavyweight division will move on with or without Jon Jones, according to promotion president Dana White.

Georges St-Pierre and Oscar De La Hoya were in negotiations for a fight until UFC president Dana White vetoed it.

Read full article at Yahoo Sports

Andre Drummond is dominating and making the Lakers a better team

Lakeshow Life 16 May, 2021 - 02:00am

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 06: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers attempts a pass between Andre Drummond #2 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Staples Center on May 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It was by far one of the best moves in the NBA when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired center Andre Drummond. He surely made the right choice spurning other teams and signing with them as his presence was drastically needed as he has been a wonderful fit for the team.

As many would agree, he was exactly what the Lakers needed, especially with not getting the proper big man support from veteran center Marc Gasol. In fact, with Drummond here, it has actually been better for Gasol as he has come off the bench to be a decent reserve.

In his short time with the Lakers, Andre Drummond has already had eight games in which he has scored and rebounded in double digits. This again has made things better for them as he has been a very intense presence for the Lakers, giving them a legitimate big man in the middle. This, of course, will come up huge in the playoffs.

One of the great things about having Drummond is that it will help the Lakers have the edge when it comes to a big man presence if and when they face certain teams in the playoffs. The teams that are lacking in that area are the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trail Blazers.

Those teams do not really possess a legit threat in the middle that can score, rebound, and play defense. Another good thing is when and if they do play teams with legit big men, such as the Denver Nuggets, having Drummond will only make it better for the Lakers as he will help defend opposing big men that are threats.

Even if his scoring dips a bit in the playoffs, especially with LeBron coming back as he and AD may do a lot more of the scoring as well as others, Drummond can clean up under the boards and with defense. He will only make things better for the team on both ends of the floor. In the clutch, he is a guy the Lakers definitely need smack down in the middle to help against opposing players that will be penetrating the lane.

It is scary to think that he is still very immature within the Lakers system and has more work to do and this will only get better for him as well as the team, making them a more solidified group among the other teams.

The Los Angeles Lakers need him to clang and bang as much as possible and clear those boards and block shots when he can. On offense, he can also help to generate attention from other teams as he can score. This will be big for the Lakers come crunch time.

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Lakers Playoff Scenarios and Postseason Schedule

NBC Southern California 16 May, 2021 - 02:00am

The Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the postseason, that much we know for sure. But where, when, and who they will play is still yet to be determined.

If you think the Lake Show are a lock to make the top six if they defeat the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, think again. The Blazers currently own the tiebreaker and a Portland win over the Denver Nuggets in their home finale, would send the Lakers into the first ever play-in tournament.

Anything can happen in this elaborate and confusing inaugural play-in tournament. Including the Lakers losing back-to-back games and missing out on the NBA Playoffs altogether.

The good news is that both LeBron James (right ankle) and Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) returned to the court on Saturday in their 122-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Alex Caruso and Jared Dudley were both active as well, although they did not play in the game. For the first time all season, the Lakers had their full complement of players and appear to be relatively healthy entering the postseason.

The Lakers biggest concern moving forward is rust and cohesion. However, if you think they have their thoughts on who they might face in the playoffs or what seed they might get, think again. When asked about it after the game, LeBron James and Anthony Davis had a very straightforward answer.

"Let the chips fall where they may. Simple as that. We’re ready to go."

Well, if the players aren't going to worry about it, we'll take on that anxiety for them. There's still a handful of postseason scenarios for the Lakers entering int the final game of the regular season on Sunday. Here they are:

The Lakers defeat the Pelicans, the Nuggets defeat the Blazers, and Los Angeles secures the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

In this scenario, the Lakers avoid the play-in tournament and have a minimum of six days off to rest, recover, practice, and prepare for the Nuggets in the first round.

The Lakers defeated the Nuggets in five games last October in the bubble in Orlando, Florida and are arguably better this year. With the addition of a true point guard in Dennis Schröder, and big man Andre Drummond, the Lakers starting five is stacked.

Marc Gasol headlines a vaunted second unit that includes reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, sophomore sensation Talen Horton-Tucker, plucky point guard Alex Caruso, veteran Markieff Morris and sharp-shooters Wesley Matthews and Ben McLemore. Needless to say, the Lakers are deep, and if they're at full strength they can beat anybody in basketball.

The Nuggets are also improved since the bubble, acquiring Aaron Godon, JaVale McGee, and Austin Rivers at the trade deadline. However, they are without their second-best player in point guard Jamal Murray, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

If the Lakers were to defeat the Nuggets, they would face either the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, or Memphis Grizzlies in the second round. In this scenario, they would avoid the L.A. Clippers or Jazz/Suns (best record in the NBA) until the Western Conference Finals.

Fearing a first-round matchup with the fully loaded Lakers, the Nuggets lose to the Blazers on Sunday and Portland avoids the play-in tournament altogether, sending the Lakers into a one-game, winner take all matchup with either the Warriors or Grizzlies.

The Lakers would play that game on Wednesday at Staples Center. Regardless of the opponent, the Lakers would be favored in either matchup and a win would secure the seventh seed and a first-round matchup with either the Phoenix Suns or Utah Jazz.

Either team would be a tough matchup for the Lakers, but if healthy, they would still be considered the favorites in either of those series. If they advance, they would face either the Nuggets or Blazers in the second round (see best case scenario), and either the Jazz, Suns, Clippers, or Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

In the above scenario, the Lakers could lose their play-in game on Wednesday against either the Warriors or Grizzlies and then have to face either of those two teams, or the Spurs in a do-or-die elimination game on Friday at Staples Center. A win, and they secure the eighth-seed in the Western Conference.

Similar to the above scenario, they would face either the Jazz or Suns in the first round, and the Clippers or Mavericks in the second round. If they happen to advance all the way to the Western Conference Finals, it could be a number of teams including the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, or Blazers as their opponents with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.

The worst-case scenario is that the Lakers could miss out on the NBA Playoffs altogether. You might be asking yourself: 'How on earth could that possibly happen?' Well, let us explain:

If they defeat the Pelicans on Sunday, the Lakers will finish the 72-game regular season with a record of 42-30, that could be tied for the eighth best record in the entire NBA.

However, thanks to the new play-in format, the Lakers could find themselves on the outside looking in of the top six seeds in the Western Conference. They do not hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks or the Blazers.

The Lakers could then lose their first play-in game on Wednesday against either the Warriors or Grizzlies, and then lose again on Friday against either of those two teams or the Spurs. If they lose back-to-back play-in games, they are eliminated from the postseason.

Got all that? Everything will be clearer after all 30 NBA teams take the court on Sunday. Not much will be decided however by the time the Lakers tip-off against the Pelicans at 6:00PM PT, as the Clippers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Blazers, and Jazz all start simultaneously. So you might as well just sit back and enjoy the show.

3 Key Lakers Free Agents ‘Need’ to Boost Value in Playoffs, Says Analyst

Heavy.com 15 May, 2021 - 03:06pm

Before and during the current NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers made moves that were widely considered upgrades when they happened. Unfortunately, that hasn’t actually always been the case. Some of the team’s additions haven’t always led to big returns.

One of the most hyped moves the Lakers made was signing Andre Drummond after the trade deadline. The two-time All-Star was considered to be the best player on the buyout market and was supposed to be a massive upgrade over Marc Gasol. While Drummond hasn’t been bad, he hasn’t been very consistent. He’s set to be a free agent at the end of the season and Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report listed him as one of the three Lakers who need to “boost” their value in the playoffs.

“Still, his size and athleticism could sway some suitors his way with a strong postseason,” Buckley wrote. “If he uses that stage to showcase better defensive feel and a willingness to fill the rim-running role, he could still fetch a decent contract this summer.”

Drummond is only averaging 11.9 points a game with 9.8 rebounds. Those would be his lowest averages since his rookie season if they hold up. He can do a lot to help his value in the playoffs but the Lakers went away from using too many bigs last year. It’s very possible Drummond doesn’t see the type of money he was hoping for this offseason.

Another player that Buckley mentioned was Montrezl Harrell. The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year was a very good piece for the Lakers earlier in the season. However, he’s dropped off. After averaging 19.5 points a game in the month of March, he only averaged 9.2 points a game in April and is averaging 10.2 points in May.

“The Lakers are deep enough at center that if Harrell doesn’t have it going, they can quickly pivot in a different direction,” Buckley wrote. “If he can’t convince potential suitors that he might work as a starter or, more importantly, a closer, he could find a more tepid market than his per-minute production would suggest.”

Harrell is typically a very strong scorer but has struggled since the addition of Drummond. Considering his struggles against teams with dominant bigs, he could be in serious trouble of falling out of the rotation if the Lakers face the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz or Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs.

Perhaps no Laker has been more disappointing than Wes Matthews. He was supposed to be an upgrade over Danny Green as one of the team’s top 3-and-D guys. That hasn’t been the case. He’s shooting a career-worst 33.5% from three and has disappeared from the rotation many times this season. Buckley believes that Matthews needs to do a lot in the playoffs.

“Saying that, narratives can change quickly in the postseason, and Matthews will have the stage and opportunity to rewrite his,” Buckley wrote. “The Lakers often entrust him with high-profile defensive matchups, so if he handles those well enough and rediscovers his three-point touch, he might again have contenders lining up to plug him into a complementary role.”

If Matthews finds his stroke from three in the playoffs, teams will forget about his regular-season struggles. There isn’t a player who needs a big postseason more than Matthews.

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