On the Lookout: Lakers need a win over Pelicans for a shot at 6th

Published May 16, 2021, 3:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

To clinch the sixth spot in the West, the Lakers need to defeat the Pelicans and hope that the Blazers lose to the Nuggets.

It’s the final regular season game of the defending champs Los Angeles Lakers and it’s a must-win. How weird is that?

Instead of looking ahead to their first round matchup, the Lakers have to close out a tough last stretch to avoid the play-in tournament and risk missing the chance to defend the title.

The good news is that the Lakers just came off a big win versus the Indiana Pacers with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Dennis Schroder all back playing together after a long while. 

With the win, the Lakers are much closer to the guaranteed sixth playoff spot, and made the road much clearer: now, they’ll have to beat the New Orleans Pelicans next and the Portland Trail Blazers will have to lose to the Denver Nuggets.

The bad news for the Lakers is that they can only control one of those things.

With a healthy and determined LeBron and AD, it’s not looking good for the Pelicans, a team with nothing to lose after officially getting eliminated from playoff contention following a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Pelicans entered with the season beaming with potential, coming off a pandemic-shortened and injury-riddled rookie year of Zion Williamson. This year, Zion averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting a clean 61.1 percent from the floor. 

Brandon Ingram also showed off his talent many times this season, but injuries to Lonzo Ball and Steven Adams hampered the Pelicans’ trajectory in the Western Conference playoff mix. They’re poised to miss the play-in tournament by about two wins, another disappointing exit for a young team with talent. 

The Lakers have won four straight and are playing in a back-to-back, but it’s winning time for LeBron and company. The Pelicans could be overmatched and will have to dig deep to give their lost season at least a strong finish.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ final regular season stand against the New Orleans Pelicans will be aired live at 9:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Cignal TV or NBA.smart, free for Smart Signature & Smart Prepaid subscribers with Giga Video subscription.