With the return of LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated a casualty-plagued Indiana Pacers on Saturday and maintained their chances of qualifying directly for the playoffs on Sunday on the final day of the NBA regular season.
To get a direct ticket to the playoffs and avoid the ‘play in’ (repechage), the Lakers need to go from 7th place in the Western Conference to 6th, beating the Portland Trail Blazers.
The reigning champions are thus forced to beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and hope that the Blazers (6th) lose that same day against the Denver Nuggets.
For the moment, the Lakers met their first goal by defeating the Indiana Pacers 122-115 at home in the return to the courts of LeBron James, who missed the last six games due to a sprained right ankle that has dragged on since March. .
“I felt more mobility in my ankle today. I have a bit of pain now that the game is over but I was expecting it. I haven’t had any relapses today so it was a good job for me and the medical team, ”said the 36-year-old forward.
‘King James’ had 24 points and 8 assists while his partner Anthony Davis shone with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers also recovered the German point guard Dennis Schröder, out since April 30 due to the coronavirus prevention protocols, who achieved 14 points.
For the Pacers, who will play the Eastern conference play-in, guard Caris LeVert led the offense with 28 points and 12 assists against the team’s numerous casualties, especially that of All-Star power forward Domantas Sabonis.
LeBron James showed great intensity on the court early on, scoring the first basket of the game, and was instrumental in stopping one last comeback attempt by the Pacers.
With an 11-0 run, Indiana was just three points behind (111-108) with three minutes remaining.
LeBron James ended the streak with a triple and two more consecutive baskets, clearing the way for the Los Angeles victory.
– Lakers or Blazers, last unknown –
The presence of the Lakers or the Blazers in the ‘play in’ is the great unknown of the last weekend of the NBA regular phase.
Teams that finish Sunday between 1st and 6th place in each conference advance directly to the playoffs while those classified from 7th to 10th place will face each other between May 18 and 21 in the ‘play in’ for the last tickets to the playoffs.
The repechage format contemplates a first confrontation between the 7th classified of each conference against the 8th and the 9th against the 10th.
The winner of the game between 7th and 8th will advance directly to the playoffs while the loser will have a new chance to get the ticket against the winner of the game between 9th and 10th. (AFP) (GG)