Lakers can still finish in four different spots in the standings
The Lakers (44-37) have one game remaining on their schedule, yet they could finish in four different spots in the Western Conference standings.
With a win Wednesday against the Houston Rockets (45-35) at Staples Center, the Lakers guarantee themselves at least a playoff spot, with the worst position being the eighth seed — a probable matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (59-21).
The Utah Jazz (42-38) are in ninth place with two to play. If they lose at Minnesota on Monday or at Memphis on Wednesday, the Lakers clinch a playoff berth. If the Lakers lose to the Rockets and the Jazz win both, the Lakers drop to ninth and start their vacation on Thursday.
If the Lakers lose and the Jazz lose, the Lakers are locked in at eight.
The Lakers still have a slight window to catch both the Golden State Warriors and Rockets.
The Warriors (45-35) host the San Antonio Spurs (58-22) on Monday followed by a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers (33-47) on Wednesday. The Spurs have announced that they will sit Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili to rest up for the postseason. The Blazers have lost 11 straight games.
In the unlikely event that the Warriors lose both, the Lakers would catch Golden State by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Rockets visit the Phoenix Suns (24-56) on Monday before their trip to Staples Center on Wednesday. Assuming the Lakers close out the year with a win, and if Houston falls to Phoenix, the Lakers would catch the Rockets in the standings by conference tiebreaker.
Phoenix has won just one game in its last 10 tries, suggesting a Houston loss is a long shot, but the game still needs to be played.
In the event of a three-way tie, the Golden State Warriors would drop to eight with the worst record against the Lakers and Rockets.
The decider for six and seven would be conference record, where the Lakers would hold a four-game advantage over the Rockets.
The most likely outcomes have the Lakers finishing eighth or ninth. Six or seven are remote possibilities.
Climbing to seven would probably pit the Lakers against the Spurs, a more favorable matchup in the first round than the younger, healthier, more athletic Thunder.
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