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The Lakers should tank the play-in

Mon, April 15th, 2024

The Opening Tip

  • The Lakers are in an unusual predicament 

  • The Raptors are an embarrassment 

  • Stats we found interesting

Tomorrow’s Play-in Tournament

1. The Lakers should delay Denver as long as possible

The NBA’s play-in tournament starts tomorrow.

There’s one glaring storyline: The Lakers’ best course of action is tanking tomorrow’s 7-8 matchup vs. the Pelicans to avoid playing Denver. 

  • If they win tomorrow … they play the 2 seed Nuggets, who’ve beaten them eight straight times and own them on a psychological level. 

  • If they lose tomorrow … they play the winner of Warriors-Kings for a chance to play the Thunder in the 1-8 matchup, who they went 3-1 against this year and have two glaring advantages against: Size and experience. 

You can argue it’s risky to tank tomorrow because the second play-in becomes a win or go home endeavor, but you can also argue the Lakers’ season is over if they have to play the Nuggets.

BTW: The Pels are currently 1.5-point favorites vs. the Lakers tomorrow, despite LA going 3-1 vs. them this season, including a 16-point win on Sunday.

Maybe the sports books think they’ll tank, too.

[READ: 2024 NBA play-in predictions] 

2. Daily GIF: Fool me once

Related: The Raptors lost 19 of their final 21 games, which gives them the sixth best lottery odds, putting them in position to keep their top 7 protected first round pick.

3. Trivia

Who has the record for points in a play-in game (50)?

• Jayson Tatum

• Ja Morant

• LeBron James

• Steph Curry

Guess, click and see if you're right.

4. Numbers we found interesting but have no greater use for

84 games

Thanks to an in-season trade and some schedule luck, Buddy Hield played 84 games in an 82-game season this year, most since Casey Jacobsen’s 84 in 2004-05.

69 points

Why mid-April NBA is so funny: Payton Pritchard set a new career high twice in three days, dropping 31 on Friday and then 38 yesterday for a two-game average of 34.5 PPG on .674/.500/.1000 shooting splits.

23.9 years

The Thunder are the youngest 1 seed in NBA history, at 23.9-years-old on average. They picked No. 2 overall in the draft two years ago.


Luke Kornet just completed the greatest no context shooting season in NBA history: 70 percent from the field, 100 percent from 3, 90.7 percent from the line.

Quick hits

  • Boban misses free throw on purpose, gives fans free chicken. 

  • Final tally on Bucks coaches: Adrian Griffin went 30-13, Joe Prunty went 2-1, Doc Rivers went 17-19. 

  • This quote from Sam Presti in 2021 was prophetic in hindsight. 

  • Doesn’t it seem like the refs are doing more things like this of late?

  • The five most viewed plays on social and digital this year. 

  • There’s another Nikola Jokic sound-alike about to enter the NBA.

Reads + Pods

  • Will San Antonio be able to build around Victor Wembanyama? [The Ringer]

  • What do the Celtics' dominant analytics say about their playoff hopes? [The Athletic]

That's the buzzer.
Thanks for reading the 375th edition of The Grip.