On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their second game in a row to drop down to seventh place in the Western Conference standings. On Saturday night, Steph Curry went off for 49 points to carry the Golden State Warriors past the Oklahoma City Thunder and maintain their hold on eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
Which means, that as things stand, the Lakers and Warriors are on a collision course to meet in the play-in tournament. The team that finishes seventh will play the team that finishes eighth in the first round of the play-in tournament, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
Asked after his big outing whether the league would enjoy such a matchup later this month, Curry simply nodded his head in memeable fashion.
The answer, obviously, is yes. Though they haven’t had the best seasons, the Warriors and Lakers are still two of the most important teams in the league, while Steph Curry and LeBron James are two of the most important players. If they ended up squaring off in a winner-take-all game for a playoff spot, that would be incredible.
This is exactly the kind of intrigue that the league was hoping to create when they introduced this idea, and the fact that it’s a possibility that everyone is talking about is probably a success in some people’s eyes. And if it does indeed end up happening, even opponents of the play-in tournament couldn’t deny that kind of drama.
Of course, there’s still a week left in the regular season, and plenty could change. The Lakers are only 1.5 games behind the Trail Blazers for sixth place and might not end up in the play-in tournament at all, and the Warriors are only half a game up on the Grizzlies for ninth place. They could easily drop down and end up in the ninth vs. tenth matchup.