Lakers: Week 23 predictions

Eric Pincus predicts how the Lakers will fare this week against the 76ers, Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Clippers

The Lakers (19-53) finished Week 22 with two straight losses after a win in Minnesota against the Timberwolves (16-57).

They'll wrap their five-game road trip on Monday, visiting the Philadelphia 76ers (18-56) before three home games at Staples Center, against the New Orleans Pelicans (39-34), the Portland Trail Blazers (47-25) and the  Clippers (49-25)

With just a couple of weeks left in the season, the Lakers are better served collecting losses over wins, to improve draft position.

To date, the Lakers are two wins better than the cumulative prediction of 17-55.

Monday at Philadelphia 76ers

With a loss, the Lakers can bump the 76ers up to 19 victories, putting both teams even in the win column.  The Lakers would be better served to climb to third in the draft lottery, which is why they're better off falling in Philadelphia.

The Sixers have competed in recent weeks, becoming one of the better bottom franchises in the league. Both teams are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Prediction: 76ers

Wednesday vs. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are still holding out hope that they'll catch the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-32) for the eighth postseason berth in the Western Conference.

They simply can't afford any losses, especially to non-playoff teams such as the Lakers.

Forward Anthony Davis gives the Pelicans a shot to win on most nights, although injuries and inconsistent team play has the Pelicans just five games above .500.

Prediction: Pelicans

Friday vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are currently matched up against the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Even though Portland will be the fourth seed as the presumptive winner of the Northwest Division, the fifth-seeded Clippers will have home-court advantage by virtue of a 49-25 record.

The Blazers are trying to rectify that with a strong finish, including their visit to the Lakers on Friday.

Prediction: Trail Blazers

Sunday vs. Clippers

The Clippers are finally starting to click, with Blake Griffin back from an elbow injury.

With a win, the Lakers would give themselves a better chance at the Clippers' second-round draft pick, which is owed to the Lakers only if it's in the 51-to-55 range. Currently, the Clippers' selection is just outside of that range, at 56.

It's far more important for the Lakers to lose, thus helping to preserve their first-round pick, given that it would convey to the Philadelphia 76ers, via the Phoenix Suns, if it's not a top-five selection.

Prediction: Clippers

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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