Los Angeles Lakers’ latest surge could cause serious problems for the Kings 

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have not played up to expectations all season long, seemingly failing to capitalize on last season’s Western Conference Finals run. You should never bet against a team that is led by LeBron James, however. 

With the playoffs on the line, the Lakers have stepped up their game, winning eleven out of their last fifteen games. That includes wins over the Bucks, the Timberwolves, and the Cavaliers. 

For all basketball fans who want to see LeBron James and Anthony Davis competing at the highest level, this is great news. At age 39, James is still putting up between 20 and 40 points regularly, and Davis is having a great season on both ends of the floor. Earlier this year, it seemed that they might fall short of even getting to the playoffs, spending most of the season at the bottom of the Play-In Tournament standings. 

This latest surge has vastly improved their position though, as they are now only half a game behind the seventh-place Pelicans and one and a half games behind the sixth-place Suns. For the Sacramento Kings, this is a major problem. They own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, but after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-97, the Lakers overtook them in the win column and pushed the Kings down to ninth in the West. 

What would it mean for the Kings to finish in the bottom half of the Play-In Tournament?

Fortunately for the Kings, the Lakers do not have an easy remaining schedule. Their last four games are against the Timberwolves, the Warriors, the Grizzlies, and the Pelicans. Three out of those teams still want to win and have a chance of beating the Lakers. 

The Kings’ remaining schedule is tough as well, however. Still having to face the Thunder, the Suns, and the Pelicans, they have some rough games ahead. So, it is not impossible that Sacramento will finish the regular season in ninth place. 

On the bright side, that is still much better than outright missing the playoffs, like the Kings did for so many seasons. On the other hand, it will be incredibly difficult to survive the Play-In Tournament, as the teams in ninth and tenth will have to win two games to make it out. 

If the standings remain pretty much the same, the Kings would have to face the Warriors in a single-elimination game and either end the season early on a sour note or win and then go up against the loser of the Pelicans-Lakers matchup. The Warriors are a team the Kings have struggled with and especially without Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk it will be tough to keep up with them. 

It is not impossible, however. The Warriors are not what they used to be anymore after all. If they can get the win, the Kings better hope that the Pelicans beat the Lakers. New Orleans has been a matchup nightmare all season long. While facing LeBron James in a single-elimination game is nightmare material as well, it would still be the better option. Domantas Sabonis plays incredibly well every time he meets Anthony Davis. 

Finishing in the bottom half of the Play-In Tournament is far from ideal, however, especially considering how much the Kings have riding on the playoffs.