Lakers eliminated from play-in contention, Pels-Spurs matchup set
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) stands on the court during an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in Los Angeles, Friday, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Lakers have been eliminated from playoff contention after losing 121-110 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles played 21 games this season where LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook were all available.  They went 11-10 in those games.

Their loss, along with the Spurs 116-97 win in Denver and the Pelicans 123-109 victory in Sacramento, officially stamps a play-in matchup between San Antonio and New Orleans.  Both teams will be the nine and ten seeds in the West, with only home-court advantage in that game still to be determined.

The Portland Trail Blazers are rooting for San Antonio in that game.  Portland will acquire New Orleans’ first-round pick in this year’s draft if the Pelicans do not advance out of the play-in tournament.

To advance out of the play-in tournament, the Pelicans would have to beat the Spurs in the 9-10 play-in game, then also beat the winner of the 7-8 play-in game, a matchup still to be determined.  If New Orleans cannot win both games, then Portland acquires their first-round pick.  If the Pelicans somehow do win both and advance to the playoffs, they will keep their first-round pick, and Portland won’t realize any draft pick until 2025, and by then, the pick Portland will acquire will be the first-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, a pick that would figure to be much-less desirable than a probable lottery selection from New Orleans this year.

The Blazers natural first-round pick will be revealed at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17th.  Portland likely will hold the sixth-worst record in the NBA by season’s-end.  They are 27-52 following a most recent loss Tuesday night at Oklahoma City.

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