The loss was a deflating one for the Purple and Gold, who are now in a three-way tie with Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks for the sixth seed. All three teams are 36-28 on the season.
LeBron James vented his frustration by blasting the idea of a play-in tournament in the first place.
“Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired,” LeBron James said per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The criticism from LeBron James regarding the play-in tournament comes after Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic also questioned the league’s new postseason qualification format that was introduced last season. Mavs owner Marc Cuban also echoed Doncic’s criticism about the play-in tournament.
If the regular season were to end today, the LA Lakers would not be in the play-in tournament; they’d go straight to the playoffs as a sixth seed, where they’d play the Denver Nuggets in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals.
If the LA Lakers lose more games in the final weeks of the regular season, the defending champions could slip down further and end up playing for one of the last spots in the playoffs if finish between the seventh and tenth positions.
Despite his team’s indifferent form in recent games, LeBron James is confident of his team’s playoff chances, saying in this regard:
“LeBron said it doesn’t matter where the team lands from a seeding standpoint if he’s not close to 100% from a health standpoint,” wrote Spectrum SportsNet reporter Mike Trudell on a Twitter post.
LeBron James and the LA Lakers’ health status
LeBron James started the fourth quarter of the Raptors game and left to get some rest and did not return.
It was reported in the broadcast that he sustained a sore right ankle that made him miss the final minutes of the game.
More than their seeding, the LA Lakers are more concerned about the fitness of their roster, something that James reminded in his post-game comments.
“I think our team is predicated on health,” James said. “That is the No. 1 thing for our ball club. We need to be healthy, and we need to be full.”
The LA Lakers will be back on the floor on Monday to face the Denver Nuggets, and it will be interesting to see if LeBron James plays through injury.
Also Read: 5 longest playoff droughts in NBA history.