Playoffs Snapshot — April 15

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The magic number for the Los Angeles Lakers is one, or “Uno Mas” as Kobe Bryant put it late Sunday night.

One more win by the Lakers — they wrap up the regular season against Houston on Wednesday night — secures their playoff bid. But they could lock it down without taking the floor if the Utah Jazz can’t keep the pace tonight in Minnesota. A Jazz loss also nails down the Lakers’ postseason plans.

Uno Mas!

That’s just one of the glaring storylines on tap for a busy, 11-game Monday around the league:

CHICAGO BULLS at ORLANDO MAGIC (7 p.m. ET, LEAGUE PASS): The Bulls’ regular-season-ending Florida road trip continues in Orlando, where the Bulls have to win if they want to keep up their chase for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Of course, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is more concerned with his team’s recent struggles (they are 1-4 after a 6-2 surge that had them in striking distance for home court advantage in the first round) than he is anything that will come this weekend. “I don’t want us thinking about the playoffs,” he said. “I want us thinking about the game against the Orlando Magic.”

Other than the distance, there isn’t much difference between a 4-5 matchup with Brooklyn or a 3-6 matchup against Central Division rival Indiana in the first round. The Bulls will go into the weekend as one of the most dangerous lower seeds on either side of the conference divide. That is, of course, if they can actually get back to playing winning basketball.

UTAH JAZZ at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (8 p.m. ET, LEAGUE PASS): Plenty of televisions and mobile devices in Southern California will be tuned into this game, which reunites the previous and current fans of the Lakers in a way that has probably never happened before. The Jazz have to win out and hope the Lakers fall in their regular season finale against Houston to claim the playoff bid they have been chasing vigorously the past month.

“Focus. Focus,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They play well at home. They have great fans in Minnesota. They’re really going to be hyped for this game. They know how important it is for us. So that’s really going to motivate them to be spoilers, so we want to come in focused and ready to play.”

Al Jefferson worked the Timberwolves for a career-high tying 40 points in a 107-100 home win over the Timberwolves on Friday night. The Jazz will need more of the same from him tonight if they are going to continue the fight for their playoff lives another day. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, control the Lakers’ destiny tonight.

HOUSTON ROCKETS at PHOENIX SUNS (10:00 p.m. ET, League Pass): The Rockets’ playoff bid was locked up last week, but they are clinging to that sixth seed right now with an opportunity to determine their own fate with wins, tonight in Phoenix and Wednesday against the Lakers. They already own the tiebreaker over Golden State by virtue of their 3-1 edge in the season series and they hold a 2-1 lead over the Lakers.

But they can’t slip up in these final two games. If they do, the Lakers will not only even the season series Wednesday night, they’ll gain the tiebreaker over the Rockets by virtue of their better record against Western Conference teams. The Rockets can render all of that critical minutiae useless by simply continuing to do what they have done during this recent stretch that has seen them win six of their last eight games, and that’s handle the business at hand.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV): This could end up being a first-round playoff preview for the Spurs and Warriors, who currently occupy the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds, respectively, in the Western Conference playoff order. The Spurs blew their chance to control their fate in the race for the top seed with the Oklahoma City Thunder by dropping that game Sunday night at Staples Center to the Kobe-less Lakers.

The Warriors have lost three of four, including that tight game against the Lakers Friday night in Los Angeles. Forget the seeding, they need to get back on a winning track heading into the playoffs, no matter who they face this weekend. “We don’t want to relax. We can’t afford to do that right now,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry. “This is a big game for us to bounce back after two tough losses. It’s good preparation to know that every game means something for our seeding, and for our state of mind going into the playoffs.”

29 Comments

  1. francis says:

    since houston lost to phoenix a while ago, lakers can clinch 7th seed if they defeat houston by 5 pts and up

  2. jORDAN says:

    …. u cant have that 6th RING … ur max is 5, and u already had 5.
    .
    Coz u will always be just 2nd to me, thats why u are #24, again, just next to my #23. If and only IF u dreamt of being yourself, and not chase the ghost of being ME, and play TEAM ball w/ Shaq and the rest on your team, there’s a VERY strong possibillity that u might have more rings than me, and maybe, your group might had able to make the 1st fourpeat or more ….. what a waste of talent & opportunity …. just bcoz you want to be like ME, when you can actually create your own legacy, and be just like you, be KOBE.

  3. @sekou says:

    -if the lakers win over houston… will the lakers be rank 7?

  4. purpngold says:

    Don’t under estimate the Lakers. If D12 and Gasol show up, the heavy underdogs could give the Thunder a run for their money. Anything is possible. If the Lakers want to get to the finals they have to be able to beat the best in the west.
    Lets Go Lakers!!

  5. TTKIN says:

    It’d be funny if Kobe got his 6th ring without even playing the playoffs this year, then came back next year and they get ring num 7 for him.

    • Darius says:

      yea rite

    • jORDAN says:

      … and then you wake-up coz u already peed on ur bed …. hahahahaha …. lmao!

    • jORDAN says:

      … and thats funny! ……. HAHAHAHAHA

    • jORDAN says:

      …. u cant have that 6th RING … ur max is 5, and u already had 5.
      .
      Coz u will always be just 2nd to me, thats why u are #24, again, just next to my #23. If and only IF u dreamt of being yourself, and not chase the ghost of being ME, and play TEAM ball w/ Shaq and the rest on your team, there’s a VERY strong possibillity that u might have more rings than me, and maybe, your group might had able to make the 1st fourpeat or more ….. what a waste of talent & opportunity …. just bcoz you want to be like ME, when you can actually create your own legacy, and be just like you, be KOBE.

  6. Eric says:

    go bulls.

  7. Unkle Daddy says:

    Your right the Lakers front line is better than OKC’s no doubt, but just as their front court is better, they have no match up for OKC’s back court. 1 RW (#2), 2 TS, KM (#3), 3 KD (#1) vs. 5 DH (#1), 4 PG (#2) the numbers don’t lie, the story of bigs vs. gaurds.

    • Laker Believer says:

      Well you could say that nash is somewhat better than thabo and martin right? hope he returns in the playoffs. but i hope more that they enter the playoffs. they are playing good basketball right now. they have that much needed urgency that i was talking about in the early season.

  8. Youmelous says:

    Hi guys,
    I believe the Lakers don’t deserve to have a spot in the playoffs, I’m not kinda hater, but they didn’t play well though!!
    They will lose both in the first leg. Whether LA oe Utah in the 8th position, they play against good teams so!
    Whatever good luck!!!

  9. Max says:

    If Laker’s hang on and become the #8, watch Pop sit his best players this week and go for keeping the #2 position! A RAT, but knows when and how to abuse a poor free throw shooter.

  10. W/E says:

    It would be so funny if the Lakers win against OKC without Kobe in the playoffs, they could do it at least on paper they got Dwight and Pau and they should build more chemistry without ballhog Kobe.

  11. chandler says:

    lakers dont deserve it!!!

    • Terrance Underwood says:

      Kobe is a true player since jordan , there fore lakers deserve it , the ball will bounce there way , watch

  12. Lakers Heat says:

    in some way this is a good transition if Dwight going to stay with the Lakers. He can start taking over and dominate the game and make all the guys around him look good. They can show the league what they Dwight and Gasol really can do together as powerful force that no one else can match. The two biggest BEASTS of the NBA League!

  13. Peter Baron says:

    WARRIORS!!!!! WE STILL BELIEVE. Watch out for a first round shocker by our Bay Boys

  14. Lakers Heat says:

    iN SOME WAY

  15. Brian says:

    Utah is going nowhere, they prepared their own grave, and the another contributor was the questionable calls in faor of the lakers to win some games after the allstar break. But I like that the san antonio lost last night because OKC will take the lakers and beat them for good to let them now that they are history starting for their ball hog “leader”

    • Jaye says:

      In a sense, Brian is a Laker fan. He doesn’t follow one team, just likes to throw his rage at the Lakers. I guess great teams will always have these critics.

      • Me says:

        “Great teams” seems a little much for a probable 8th seed. Doubt people are describing Milwaukee that way.

      • Jaye says:

        Milwaukee doesn’t have the 2nd most championships in the league. And yes there is also a huge difference between conferences. When in doubt, read more than just 1 article

  16. oldandmad says:

    Wow another season done…ben a medical nightmare for my Lakers, but showed alot of character on Sunday without the much missed Kobe….keep it up guys..

  17. REAL TALK: but they won’t get far in the playoffs…they still have a chance though