Game 82 Will Decide Lakers Playoff Fate

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

81 games weren’t quite enough to decide the Western Conference playoff picture. The Lakers will need game #82 – at home vs. the Houston Rockets on Wednesday – to determine their immediate fate.

Depending on what happens over the course of about six hours on Wednesday night, the Lakers could find themselves as high as #7, and as low as, well… falling out of the playoff picture all together. Here are the scenarios:

Best Case Scenario:

The Lakers beat the Rockets on Wednesday night. The Jazz would be eliminated from playoff contention, and the Lakers would finish as the #7 seed, giving them the Spurs in the first round. The Rockets would finish #8, booking them a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1.

Phew, That Was Close Scenario:

The Lakers lose to the Rockets on Wednesday, but the Jazz also lose to the Grizzlies. In this situation, the Rockets would finish at #7, giving them San Antonio in Round 1. The Lakers would finish #8, and draw Oklahoma City in the first round. The Jazz would be eliminated from the postseason.

The Sky Caves in on Staples Center Scenario:

The Lakers lose to the Rockets on Wednesday, and the Jazz win in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The Lakers would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Rockets would finish #7, and the Jazz would finish #8. We’re not going to talk about this happening…

Wednesday Night Schedule:

The Jazz vs. Grizzlies game will get underway at 5:00pm PT at Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. The Lakers vs. Rockets game tips at 7:30pm PT at Staples Center. Most likely, we’ll know the outcome of the Jazz game by the time things get going at Staples Center.


Jason Riley is the executive director of He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.