Sunday night featured an embarrassing loss as the short-handed Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-114. Following the beat down, LeBron James wasn’t shy regarding his feelings on their foreseeable play-in tournament.
LeBron James did not mince words about the play-in tournament. 😳— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 3, 2021
The Lakers fell to the Raptors 121-114. pic.twitter.com/Q7nSH8xL5L
Seeing as how LeBron James lead the Lakers to the championship just six months ago, it’s understandable that he’d want to avoid any extra games. On top of that, he’s battled an ankle injury this season. An injury that apparently isn’t all the way healed as he left the Raptors game early with ‘ankle soreness.’ But unfortunately for The King, there’s not much time left to get the Lakers on track.
As it currently stands, the Lakers sit at seventh in the west with eight games remaining. Not exactly a lot of wiggle room to climb in the standings. Not to mention their next game is against the Nuggets, meaning their losing streak will most likely extend to four. If you look ahead in their schedule, the Lakers face four straight playoff teams. After the Nuggets, they take on the Clippers, the Trailblazers, and then the no.1 seed Suns. There’s a real chance their losing streak extends to seven.
The good news for LeBron James is that the Lakers are tied with both Portland and the Mavs. There’s almost zero chance they catch the fourth seed, but they could vault to five and avoid the play-in. But given the strength of the Western Conference, the Lakers are in for a war no matter who they face.
First Round Knock-Out?
Given the recent struggles of the Lakers, there’s a great chance they could get bounced in the first round. Assuming the top four teams stay in the top four, LeBron’s Lakers would have to face either the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, or Clippers. In head-to-head matchups this season, the Lakers are 2-7 against these four teams. While I’m not predicting that LeBron James WILL get swept in the first round, the Lakers inconsistency could come back to bite them. Unless the Lakers are 100% healthy come playoffs, another championship doesn’t appear to be in their immediate future.
It’s obvious that the 2020-2021 NBA season hasn’t panned out the way the Lakers would’ve liked it too. They’ve struggled with injuries, had some signings backfire, and haven’t sustained any type of consistency. For the Lakers to have any hope of avoiding further embarrassment, they must get on track quick, fast, and in a hurry. The last thing LeBron James needs is to miss out entirely on the 2021 playoffs. Skip Bayless would never let he or Shannon Sharpe hear the end of it.