It has been frustrating for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are now on a three-game losing streak following Sunday’s night 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Months ago, the Lakers were fighting for the top seed in the Western Conference, when Anthony Davis and LeBron James were healthy. Unfortunately, the battle for the top seed ended after both Davis and James were sidelined with injuries. Without their two superstars, Los Angeles was not able to hold on, and the team fell in the conference standings. Since March 20, the Lakers have gone 8-15, and although they’re sixth in the conference standings, they are in a three-way tie with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. All three teams have identical 36-28 records, and the Mavericks are fifth in the conference, the Lakers are sixth, and the Blazers are seventh.

Since the three teams have identical records, then that means that one of the three teams will be playing in the play-in tournaments. Should the Lakers fall to seventh place in the conference, they will participate in the play-in tournaments. The NBA’s new play-in tournament expands the eight playoff teams to 10. It is especially crucial because the Lakers have one game left against Portland, so they must win to avoid the play-in.

For James, it is very frustrating to possibly have the defending NBA champions participate in it. “Whoever came up with that sh*t needs to be fired,” James said following the Lakers loss to Toronto. James has a history of changing his feelings about the play-ins. When the play-ins were proposed in 2018, James called it “whack”, and last season he was in favor of it.

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