Wesley Matthews shot vs Pelicans

Lakers at Pelicans, Three Things to Know: May 16, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (41-30) face the Pelicans (31-40) in New Orleans on Sunday evening. Tipoff is at 6:00 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:

SEEDING IMPLICATIONS
In short, the Lakers will be the No. 6 seed if they beat the Pelicans and Portland loses to Denver, or the No. 7 seed if they lose or Portland wins. Here’s a deeper dive, including play-in scenarios:

Lakers are the No. 6 seed if…
The Lakers beat the Pelicans AND the Blazers lose to the Nuggets.
- In this case, L.A. would face Denver in Round 1.

Lakers are the No. 7 seed if…
The Lakers lose to the Pelicans OR the Blazers beat Denver AND the Lakers win the 7 vs. 8 play-in game.
- The Lakers would face the winner of Sunday’s Warriors-Grizzlies game (6 p.m.).
- If L.A. win that game, they’d play Phoenix if the Suns lose at San Antonio (11 a.m.) OR the Jazz beat Sacramento (6 p.m.); L.A. would play Utah if the Jazz lost AND Phoenix won.

Lakers are the No. 8 seed if…
The Lakers lose the 7 vs. 8 play-in game, but beat the winner of the 9 vs. 10 play-in game.
- San Antonio will be the No. 10 seed, and face the loser of the Golden State-Memphis regular season finale. The winner of the 9 vs. 10 game would face the loser of the 7 vs. 8 game.

LeBron gave his opinion about all of this…

LEBRON’S HEALTH
Speaking of LeBron, there’s nothing more important to L.A.’s championship hopes than his health. The King returned to the court on Saturday at Indiana for his second game in May, and scored 24 points on 11 of 22 FG’s, including seven straight LAL points in crunch time, while leading his team with eight assists. Afterwards, he told us how his ankle is feeling relative to his last return (April 30, May 2).

That he said he felt much better, and that he didn’t suffer a setback was critical to hear. We’ll see if he’s going to play on the second night of a back-to-back against the Pelicans, or if they choose to let him rest and rehabilitate the ankle ahead of either Wednesday’s play-in game, or Game 1 of Round 1.

AD AT THE FOUL LINE
Against Indiana, Anthony Davis scored 28 points on 9 of 18 FG’s, plus 9 of 10 free throws, in addition to his 10 boards, five assists and two steals. It was his third game out of the last four in which he’s attempted at least 10 foul shots.

In fact, in the last two seasons, when AD attempts at least 10 FT’s, the Lakers are 23-4, which tells you something about how good LAL are when their PF/C is aggressive.

“I know it helps our team when I get to the line,” he said. “It helps me get in a rhythm … it puts the other team (in foul trouble) and gets (L.A.) into the bonus.”

It’ll be a bit easier than usual to get to the line against the Pelicans given how few of their regulars are available. With no Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart or Steven Adams, here were their Friday night starters in a loss vs. Golden State: Eric Bledsoe, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, James Johnson and Willy Hernangomez. That group just gave up 30 FTA’s to GSW; for comparison’s sake, Washington leads the NBA with 26.2 FTA’s per game.

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