The Lakers are looking more like a pretender than a contender, but at full strength, as star Anthony Davis noted, Los Angeles may be able to compete with some of the best in both the league and conference league.
It’s now a long shot they get that opportunity though, and the Warriors may have some say in the matter.
The Golden State Warriors play both the Lakers and Spurs in their last few games, giving them the keys to the Los Angeles Lakers’ imminent future.
Despite Davis having returned, LeBron James remains sidelined, and the Lakers have a tough remaining schedule. It’s actually the fifth-toughest remaining schedule, but the Suns could rest several starters, making that battle far easier.
The Warriors are the only team in the NBA that plays both the San Antonio Spurs and Lakers down the stretch. And, if the Spurs win 3 of their last 5, they’ll claim that 10th spot in a difficult Western Conference.
Golden State should look to play their best lineup for both games as well.
The Warriors don’t have anything locked up themselves, so these games are going to matter for the sake of their spot in the standings, giving coming into Monday night’s games the Mavericks are down just 1 game on the Dubs.
However, if the Dubs lose to the Spurs and beat the Lakers, they can almost guarantee that LeBron James, who was their arch-rival when he was in the Eastern Conference with the Cavs, won’t make the playoffs.
Given that Stephen Curry won’t be active for either game and certainly may miss some playoff time, the Lakers and Spurs will get a short-handed Dubs team, but it is a rotation that has the experience and is coming off a big-time win over the Jazz.
The Warriors may not necessarily eliminate the Lakers, but they certainly hold how the bottom of the Western Conference shakes up in their hands.