Sunday, September 24 2023
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, tries to move toward the basket as Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright.

Lakers star LeBron James controls the ball in front of Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright during the Lakers’ 121-107 win Friday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

One corner of the Lakers organization has explained it to coach Darvin Ham plenty of times because it’s their job — sifting through all the possible scenarios for who, when and where the Lakers could play in the postseason.

His job is to only sort of understand.

“We all have our job,” Ham said Friday. “My job is to coach the team and to make sure that whatever the scenario is, we come out and we do what we’re supposed to do on the basketball floor.”

If only it was that straightforward.

As the NBA begins its final two days of the regular season, only the top four seeds in the Western Conference had been clinched, with five other teams unsure of whether they’ll skip right to the playoffs as the fifth or sixth seed or if they’ll be forced to win their way in via the NBA’s play-in tournament for the seventh- through 10th-place teams.

Denver will be the No. 1 seed, Memphis will be No. 2, Sacramento will be No. 3 and Phoenix with be No. 4. That’s settled as is Oklahoma City’s place at 10th.

Everything could be headed toward tiebreaker hell. Here’s a handy guide to help navigate it:

Head-to-head ties

In the event two teams are tied in the standings with the same record, it’s easy. The season series is the tiebreaker. For the Lakers, they hold that advantage against the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans. They don’t own it against the Clippers or Minnesota Timberwolves.


Multiple-team ties

Let’s get weird.

If multiple teams are tied (and that looks like a possibility), head-to-head records are no longer directly involved. Instead, since none of the ties at stake here involve division leaders, teams will be ranked by their head-to-head records among all the teams tied.

The Lakers are …

3-1 against Golden State

3-1 against New Orleans

0-4 against the Clippers

1-2 against Minnesota

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, tries to drive past Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell.Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, tries to drive past Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, tries to drive past Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell during the second half of the Clippers’ win Wednesday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Clippers are …

4-0 against the Lakers

2-2 against Golden State

1-2 against Minnesota

0-3 against New Orleans

The Warriors are …

1-3 against the Lakers

2-2 against the Clippers

2-2 against New Orleans

2-2 against Minnesota

The Pelicans are

1-3 against the Lakers

3-0 against the Clippers

2-2 against Golden State

1-1 against Minnesota (with one game remaining on Sunday)

The Timberwolves are …

2-1 against the Lakers

2-1 against the Clippers

2-2 against Golden State

1-1 against New Orleans (with one game remaining on Sunday)

For instance, if the Lakers were in a three-way tie with New Orleans and Minnesota, the Timberwolves (who’d have to beat the Pelicans in the finale for this scenario) would be first in the group, the Lakers second and the Pelicans third.

If the Clippers split their final two games and end in a three-way tie for sixth with the Lakers and New Orleans, the Pelicans would be sixth (they’d move past the Clippers because of head-to-head after having the same group record), the Clippers would be seventh and the Lakers would be eighth.

So have fun with the other scenarios because all this math can make one’s head hurt.

The Lakers players have been confused by it, with the ultimate plan to just handle whatever comes — starting with a win against the Utah Jazz.

“At the end of the day, we’ll be ready,” LeBron James said. “I mean, we got a game Sunday first. Let’s control what’s in front of us and then we’ll worry about what happens after that.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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