When the Lakers used multiple trade assets in order to acquire Russell Westbrook as part of an offseason deal with the Wizards, skeptics wondered if a “Big Three” of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis could bring a championship to Los Angeles. When the front office later filled out the roster with past-their-prime veterans, those skeptics grew even louder.
But even the biggest Lakers doubters couldn’t have possibly seen this coming. Heading down the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, Los Angeles is fighting just to secure a spot in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament.
NBA LEAGUE PASS: Sign up to unlock live out-of-market games (7-day free trial)
James-led teams are typically using March and April as ramp-up periods before the championship chase, but this Lakers group still hasn’t found a winning formula through 60-plus games. Could Los Angeles miss out on the NBA Playoffs and Play-In Tournament entirely?
What are the Lakers’ NBA Playoff and Play-In Tournament chances?
As of March 4, the Lakers have a seven percent chance of making the NBA Playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections. That’s much lower than other possible Play-In Tournament teams such as the Timberwolves (90 percent), Clippers (74 percent) and Pelicans (25 percent).
They have a 65 percent chance of making the Western Conference Play-In Tournament, according to The Ringer’s Odds Machine. That model views the Spurs (46 percent) as the biggest challenger to take a spot from the Timberwolves, Clippers, Lakers or Pelicans.
NBA standings 2022: Western Conference
(Current as of March 4)
* NBA Play-In Tournament teams if season ended today
Lakers schedule 2022
The Lakers face the second-toughest remaining schedule of any NBA team, according to Tankathon. Only seven of their final 20 games will be played at home, and they have three-game and four-game road trips in March.
|Date||Opponent||Time (ET)||National TV|
|March 5||vs. Warriors||8:30 p.m.||ABC|
|March 7||at Spurs||8:30 p.m.||—|
|March 9||at Rockets||8 p.m.||—|
|March 11||vs. Wizards||10:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|March 13||at Suns||9 p.m.||ESPN|
|March 14||vs. Raptors||10:30 p.m.||—|
|March 16||at Timberwolves||8 p.m.||—|
|March 18||at Raptors||7:30 p.m.||—|
|March 19||at Wizards||8 p.m.||—|
|March 21||at Cavaliers||7 p.m.||—|
|March 23||vs. 76ers||10 p.m.||ESPN|
|March 27||at Pelicans||7 p.m.||—|
|March 29||at Mavericks||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|March 31||at Jazz||10 p.m.||TNT|
|April 1||vs. Pelicans||10:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|April 3||vs. Nuggets||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|April 5||at Suns||10:30 p.m.||NBA TV|
|April 7||at Warriors||10 p.m.||TNT|
|April 8||vs. Thunder||10:30 p.m.||—|
|April 10||at Nuggets||TBD||—|
How does the NBA Play-In Tournament work?
- The NBA Play-In Tournament will be held after the conclusion of the 2021-22 regular season and before the start of the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in the standings of each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots. Teams Nos. 7-10 will enter the Play-In Tournament.
- Each conference’s Nos. 7 and 8 teams will face off, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have one more opportunity to reach the playoffs.
- Each conference’s Nos. 9 and 10 teams will face off, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will be eliminated from playoff contention.
- The loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game and the winner of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will then play against each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.
- Beyond the Play-In Tournament, the 2022 NBA Playoffs will follow the typical format, with full best-of-seven series all the way through the NBA Finals.