Looking at the various scenarios for the Lakers to secure home-court advantage against San Antonio and/or Dallas
The Lakers would rather avoid engaging in this exercise, knowing that winning games will quell any uncertainty about their standing in the Western Conference. But with the Lakers (53-20) trailing the San Antonio Spurs (57-17) by 3 1/2 games for first place in the conference and holding a one-game lead over the Dallas Mavericks (52-21) for second place with nine games remaining, it sure is tempting to see what needs to happen for everything to fall into place. That's why the intrigue surrounding Thursday's game against Dallas remains pretty obvious. Not only would a win give the Lakers a needed cushion against the Mavericks, it could close the gap against the Spurs if San Antonio can't end a four-game losing streak Thursday against Boston.
"Whatever is going to happen is going to happen," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "The thing we have to keep in mind is continue to play well and continue to win. If that means we catch them and pass them, great. If it doesn't, we move on."
It' s understandable that the Lakers don't want to pay attention to the various scenarios to secure home-court advantage against both San Antonio and Dallas, but surely Lakers fans want to know what it would take. Below the jump is a detailed rundown on what would need to happen.
Lakers' remaining schedule: Dallas (Thursday), at Utah (Friday), Denver (Sunday), Utah (April 5), at Golden State (April 6), at Portland (April 8), Oklahoma City (April 10), San Antonio (April 12), at Sacramento (April 13)
Record vs. San Antonio: 1-2
Skinny on San Antonio: The Lakers would have home-court advantage over San Antonio if L.A. finishes with a better record, but the Spurs still have a 3 1/2 game lead in the standings. That means the Lakers would need to win at least four of their nine remaining games, while the Spurs would need to lose at least three of their last eight games. That would leave the Lakers and Spurs with identical records. Should the teams finish with the same regular season record, the Lakers have a slight chance to finish with home-court advantage regardless of head-to-head match-ups because they won the Pacific Division, which is the first tie-breaker before head-to-head match-ups. This scenario is unlikely because the Spurs have a 4 1/2 game lead over Dallas in the division with eight games remaining.
Should both teams finish with the same record and clinch their respective divisions, the Spurs would secure home court with a win over the Lakers April 12. If the Lakers tie the regular-season series and the two teams finish with identical records, the Lakers would have the edge in division match-ups, the next criteria to measure in tie-breaking scenarios. The Lakers are 11-3 against teams in their own division and have two remaining games against Pacific Division opponents, Golden State and Sacramento, meaning the Lakers would have to lose both of those games to lose their advantage in this scenario. That's because the Spurs are currently 10-5 against teams in the Southwest Division. Should it come down to this scenario, the Spurs would have to beat Houston on April 1, the only remaining game that features against a Southwest Division opponent.
The easier solution for the Lakers would obviously entail finishing with more regular-season wins than San Antonio. For that to happen, a few scenarios would have to occur. The Lakers would have to win at least five of their last nine games, while the Spurs lose their remaining eight. Or the Lakers would have to win all of their remaining games, while the Spurs would have to lose at least four of their last eight. Or the Lakers' and Spurs' records would have to coincide respectively like this: (8-1, 3-5), (7-2, 2-6), (6-3, 1-7).The Spurs' remaining games feature only three playoff teams, Boston (Thursday), the Atlanta Hawks (April 5) and the Lakers (April 12).
Record vs. Dallas: 1-1
The skinny on Dallas : The Lakers view their game Thursday against Dallas as having extra importance, knowing they hold a slim one-game lead over the Mavericks for second place in the West. A Dallas win would give the Mavericks a 2-1 regular-series lead over the Lakers, but that doesn't mean Dallas would have home-court advantage if the two teams finished with the same record. That's because the Lakers have already clinched the Pacific Division and that's more important than head-to-head match-ups. The Mavericks would have to surpass San Antonio to clinch the Southwest Division. Because the Spurs hold a 4 1/2 game lead over Dallas, this scenario likely won't happen. But if it did, it's safe to presume the Lakers and Dallas would be then competing for the first and second seeds.
-- Mark Medina
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