The Mavs, for the Lakers and a sixth place that has a prize

Avoiding play-in is within reach for the Texans despite their poor start to the season. The Lakers sink into the standings without their stars.


On May 22, the 2021 NBA playoffs will begin. Four days before, the 18th, will be the initial date of the new play in, which expands the format with respect to the Disney World bubble test. This time it will be played by those classified in the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth places of each Conference. The last two playoff tickets will be distributed as follows: Seventh and eighth will be measured in a home court match for the first. And ninth and tenth in another, also with a track advantage for the best classified. Whoever wins the first game will be in the playoffs as the seventh. Whoever loses will play to be eighth against the winner of the duel between ninth and tenth. Whoever loses that match will be eliminated. In this way, the two best (seventh and eighth) have two chances to qualify and may lose a match. Ninth and tenth have to win two without fail to be in the playoffs.

Spicier: With 15 teams in each conference, the chances of not running out of anything to play too soon increase. Right now, in the East, the Raptors' annus horribilis (20-30) has them only one game away from 10th place, their last play-in. In the West, the Pelicans are in the fight with 22-27 and the Kings with 22-29. Play-in spots are held by Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. So there would be very interesting duels, right now, with Doncic, Ja Morant, Stephen Curry… although that may change. Above, because the Mavs are fighting to escape the playoff zone and reach sixth place, the last to go straight to the playoffs. Ahead of them are the Portland Trail Blazers, two games ahead, and… the champion, Los Angeles Lakers, now two and a half ahead of emerging Mavs.

Y, right now, the Lakers seem more shooting than the Blazers, something that weeks ago would have practically sounded like a joke. But it is what it is: the injuries of LeBron James and Anthony Davis are causing the Lakers to lose a lot. On February 5, the Angelenos were 17-6 and the Mavericks, 9-14, at their worst when the pandemic hit their rotation hard. From there to the current 31-19 and 28-21, with the Lakers now embarking on a tough tour of the East: Raptors, Heat, Nets, Knicks, Hornets before another round of very difficult games against the Celtics and doubles against the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, against whom they will play twice in Texas on April 22 and 24. As things stand, they can be very direct duels to avoid play in. Especially if the champion's two superstars are still out: Anthony Davis quit on February 14 and has no return date yet. Like LeBron, absent since March 19 .

Of the Lakers' 50 games, Davis has already missed 27. And LeBron, 9. By contrast, the Mavs have five wins in a row, including a big win against the Jazz, the best team in the league, so far. The bad news is that Kristaps Porzingis, who did not play against Salt Lake City, will extend his absence due to a wrist injury. A setback for some Mavs who in the last two months have a record of 19-7. Only worse than the Suns (23-5), Nets (21-6) and Jazz (20-7) .

Meanwhile, the Lakers try to scratch any win that comes their way. They got some oxygen with three wins in four games, added against the Cavaliers, Magic and Kings. The first two are the worst attacks in the NBA. The Kings, the worst defense. Chances for a Lakers who had the 10th best offense in the league and the best defense when the injuries came. Without Davis, the attack became 24th. Since LeBron's absence joined, he's 29th. In five of the last nine games, the Angelenos have not reached 100 points, a drama in an NBA of voracious scoring despite the fact that the defense remains one of the most reliable in the championship. In that panorama, the Lakers suffer and fall in the classification. From behind they do not press many ... except for Luka Doncic's Mavs, who are going for sixth place.

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