With the Jazz's blowout loss to the Knicks on Saturday night, the Lakers tied the Jazz for the eighth spot in the West at 32-31 entering today's home game with the Bulls. Win or lose that game, it is clear that the Lakers are very much in the Playoff conversation. And considering Utah has lost seven of the past eight games while Los Angeles has won seven of the past nine, it is not hard to pick the team which is a bit warmer.
Now it is time to see if things continue for the Lakers moving forward and whether they can escape facing San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the first round, a certain death sentence even for a team with as much potential as the Lakers.
So who do the Lakers have to strive to pass now?
The seventh seed is the streaking Rockets and the sixth seed is the somewhat slumping Warriors. Los Angeles will be looking to get ahead of both of those and solidify their Playoff positioning and give themselves a chance to make a run.
The Lakers are 1.5 games back of the Rockets and 2.5 games back of the Warriors. Both teams have had their ups and downs and it certainly feels possible the Lakers could catch either of them. I mean, it seemed far-fetched for Los Angeles to catch Utah just a few weeks ago.
Undoubtedly there is still a lot of talent on the Lakers team and this is not a squad anyone wants to see early on in the Playoffs. The right matchup could allow them to make a deep Playoff run.
First things first, gaining some distance from the eighth-seeded Jazz. While Utah has struggled, the team already won the season series against Los Angeles 2-1 this season.