A season removed from their Championship run, the L.A. Lakers are going to have to defend their spot in the playoff before they can defend their title.
After Portland's victory over the Nuggets on Sunday, it sealed the Lakers' fate as the 7th seed, setting up a matchup with the 8th seeded Warriors in the NBA's upcoming play-in tournament.
The Lakers actually started off the season strong, picking up where they left off in 2020. But thanks to injury, and several roster changes, the team has been a shell of themselves for months now, leading to their freefall down the standings.
No doubt, it's surprising to see LeBron and the Lakers in this position, and tough to imagine that they might miss out on the playoffs entirely, and nobody really wants to be the one to face them in a 7-game series.
If they lose to Steph Curry's Warriors, they'll have another chance to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Spurs or Grizzlies in Game 2.
In all likelihood, we will see the Lakers in the playoffs, but whether or not it'll be as the 7th or 8th seed remains to be seen.
Either way, having to endure some extra games, and losing out on the week of rest, could have some real implications on their upcoming playoff climb.