As the Los Angeles Lakers scratch and claw their way into the playoffs, the team is struggling offensively with LeBron James still out due to a high ankle sprain, along with Dennis Schroder being away from the team in NBA’s Health and Safety protocols. Meanwhile, Talen Horton-Tucker has missed the last two games with a calf strain.
With their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, the Lakers fell to 7th seed in the Western Conference, which would likely place them in the play-in tournament. However, head coach Frank Vogel says that the team ‘can’t worry’ too much about the standings.
“For me, I’m unafraid of the play-in tournament with this team,” Vogel says, per SB Nation. “But we definitely want to finish in the top-six. There’s just too many things that can happen in a one-game series: foul trouble, a rolled ankle, anything like that could pop up. We definitely want to finish in the top-six, it’s high priority for us, but at the same time, I’m confident in our group.”
“We’re just going to compete and win as many games as we can, and wherever we land, we’re confident,” he adds. “Obviously, we want to finish in the top-six. We still have five games to make up some ground if that’s possible and we’ll continue to try and win as many games as we can.”
Forward Anthony Davis is also confident that, when healthy, the Lakers’ can prevail:
“When we’re 100% healthy, we’re one of – no, we are the top team in the league,” Davis says, per The Guardian. “Obviously, we don’t want to go that route,” Davis said of the play-in. “But if it happens, it happens.”
Two former Lakers guards, Isaiah Thomas and Quinn Cook also weighed in and expressed wanting to support their former team:
Man I feel you!! You ain’t the only one big bro!— Quinn Cook (@QCook323) May 8, 2021
Killa!!! You know what it is, you’ve proven that year after year . Stay ready. We back on real soon 🏁— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) May 8, 2021
The Los Angeles Lakers have five games left in the season including two playoff opponents in the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. They must finish with a better record than Portland and Dallas to avoid the play-in tournament.
The 2021 NBA Play-In tournament starts on May 18th.