NBA regular season

A lot riding on the line for Lakers, Warriors in regular-season finale


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A lot riding on the line for Lakers, Warriors in regular-season finale

SUPERSTAR. Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates in-game with his teammate.

Petre Thomas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘Seeds matter, and wherever you fall, you take that challenge,’ says LeBron James as the Lakers fight for play-in seeding on the last day of the regular season

The New Orleans Pelicans can secure the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, April 14 (Monday, April 15, Manila time).

The Lakers can clinch the No. 8 spot and strengthen their position for the play-in tournament by winning.

A lot is at stake for both teams as they meet in the regular-season finale in New Orleans.

New Orleans (49-32) won at Golden State, 114-109, on Friday to complete a sweep of a four-game road trip after losing the final four games of its most recent homestand.

“You’ve got to take care of what you can take care of,” said Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, who had 28 points against Golden State. “Prepare for another tough game… and try and get one before the playoffs start.”

The Pelicans need a victory against the Lakers at home, where they have lost five of their past six, to guarantee that they can avoid the play-in tournament, which they participated in the last two seasons.

“One job,” McCollum said of the task.

The Pelicans still can claim the final playoff spot if they lose, provided seventh-place Phoenix (48-33) loses at Minnesota on Sunday.

The Golden State Warriors (45-36), meanwhile, will take the court tied with the Sacramento Kings for ninth place in the Western Conference. 

If the play-in tournament were to start Sunday, the Kings would be hosting the Warriors in a win-or-go-home game by virtue of having won the season-series tiebreaker.

However, a Warriors win over the Utah Jazz, coupled with a Kings home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, would flip that home site to San Francisco.

An even more dreamy final-day scenario for Golden State would see the Warriors win, the Kings lose and the Lakers (46-35) fall at New Orleans. The Lakers lost the season series to both the Warriors and Kings, and thus would finish behind either or both in the case of a final tie.

So it’s possible, should the Lakers lose to the same team that dealt the Kings and Warriors costly defeats in the past three days, that the Warriors could move all the way up to eighth, which would mean having to lose twice to be denied a spot in the West’s final eight-team field.

“Every game matters. Every seed matters,” Lakers superstar LeBron James said. “Wherever you fall, you can’t play in the past. Seeds matter, and wherever you fall, you take that challenge.”

James played 40-plus minutes and Anthony Davis played 42-plus minutes against Memphis.

“We all understand what’s at stake,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Everyone knows what time it is. It’s that time of the year. Whatever we need, and however long we need to push guys, we’ve got to have it, and they understand that.” –

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