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Lakers late season struggles likely lead to play-in tournament

As the season winds down with only two games left, the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of avoiding the play-in tournament get smaller and smaller. As the seven-seed in the West, the defending world champs have a lot to prove. Despite struggling to defend their title and battling multiple injuries, including LeBron James who has missed 26 of the last 28 games due to an ankle injury, per SportsCenter, the Lakers are not going down without a fight.

They are on a three-game win streak after Wednesday night’s victory against the Houston Rockets, thanks to Kyle Kuzma. His driving layup in the last 6.9 seconds gave them a 124-122 win, per ESPN.

Kyle Kuzma discussed what he saw on his game-winning layup to beat the Rockets. — Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) May 13, 2021

Anthony Davis has been the catalyst for the Lakers as of late, proving he is just as much of a force on the court without his dominant counterpart, James. He looked as good as he has all season in the last few games, most notably in a matchup with the Phoenix Suns back on Sunday. There he lead the team in points and rebounds with 42 points, 12 rebounds, and was 15 of 17 at the free-throw line, per ESPN.

A dominant performance by Anthony Davis secured the #LakersWin@AntDavis23: 42 pts, 12 reb, 3 blk, 3 stl, 15-17 FT@ACFresh21: 17 pts, 8 ast Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 17 pts — Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 10, 2021

Davis is the first Laker since Elgin Baylor in 1968 to have back-to-back games of 35+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists, per SportCenter. Davis helps keep their chances of another championship alive, but recently suffered a strained groin and was treated on Wednesday. He claims he was hurting after Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. But he should be set to return for today’s game against the Indiana Pacers, per Los Angeles Times.

Crunch time for L.A.

Right now, the Lakers’ chances of facing the Golden State Warriors in round one of the play-in is 59%, per SportsCenter. This is a tough first-round matchup, but nothing the Lakers can’t handle. If James, Davis, and teammate Dennis Schroder can stay injury-free for the beginning of the playoffs, L.A. still has a great chance of staying alive in the postseason.

It looks like Dennis Schroder will be returning for Saturday’s game against the Pacers. The source: Dennis Schroder himself — Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) May 13, 2021

They have certainly turned up the heat these last few games and the surge in momentum looks great going into the playoffs.

How far do you think the Lakers can go? Will they hold on and reign supreme for the second year in a row? Comment below!

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