Nick Wass/Associated Press
Losers of three straight games and seven of their last nine, the Los Angeles Lakers are flirting with being knocked down into the play-in for the 2021 postseason.
Anthony Davis doesn’t appear concerned.
“This is the lowest we’ve been in a while. At least in the last two years. … But the only way is up. We really can’t get any lower than this,” Davis told reporters after Sunday’s 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks have an identical 36-28 record with eight games remaining in the regular season. The Lakers currently hold the No. 6 seed because of tiebreakers that give them an advantage over Portland, but they need to turn things around to avoid potentially missing the postseason altogether.
If the Lakers drop to the No. 7 seed, they will face off in a one-game playoff against the No. 8 seed to earn the 7 spot for the playoffs. If the Lakers were to lose that game, they would then play the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game for the rights to the No. 8 seed.
While it would seem unlikely that the Lakers would lose both games and drop out of the playoffs altogether, they’re struggling with chemistry as they work Davis and LeBron James back into the lineup. James has clearly been at less than 100 percent since returning from a high ankle sprain Friday against the Kings, averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in two games. Davis hasn’t been particularly right all season and has been dismal since his return from a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis, averaging 16.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting while adding 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in six games.
The Lakers’ next five games are all against teams that are currently in the playoffs, starting with the red-hot Nuggets on Monday night. It’s unclear if James has been ramped up enough to play in back-to-back games, but he does not appear to have much choice with the Lakers’ playoff hopes in peril. However, he did leave Sunday’s game early with ankle soreness.