The regular season is nearing it’s conclusion as the Los Angeles Lakers and other teams frantically try to avoid the play-in tournament. The format is new this year to the NBA and includes two more teams in the playoff picture. In years past, getting the No. 7 or No. 8 seed was all you needed to punch a ticket to the NBA Playoffs. This year, that’s not the case.

While the Lakers currently sit in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference standings, logic would say every team should do whatever it takes to avoid the play-in tournament. For the Lakers, there’s a case to be made it could benefit them.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis slowly making their way back into the fold, there’s nobody that actually believes if the Lakers are the No. 7 seed that they would lose back-to-back in the play-in and be eliminated, right?

For reference, right now the Lakers (if the playoffs started Thursday) would play the Golden State Warriors in the play-in. The winner would automatically get the No. 7 seed. Let’s say the Lakers were to lose that. Then they would play the winner of the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s just unfathomable to imagine the Lakers losing two straight to those squads and being outright eliminated from postseason play before it even really begins. The point is, there’s no real likely threat that this outcome would happen to the Lakers.

Then take a look around at the rest of the standings in the Western Conference. Utah is poised and close to locking in the No. 1 seed. Phoenix is two games clear of the Clippers for the No. 2 seed. So right now it’s: Jazz, Suns, Clippers in that order.

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If the Lakers leapfrog either the Mavericks or the Trail Blazers, it likely sets them up with a first-round date against the Clippers. That feels more like a Western Conference finals matchup than a first-round affair. The Clippers are getting healthy at the perfect time and continue to play really good basketball.

Phoenix has been an incredible story this year. Chris Paul has provided MVP caliber play and Devin Booker has all-pro written all over him. But if you’re the Lakers, wouldn’t you rather play the Suns out of the gates than the Clippers?

On paper, the Clippers and Lakers in a best-of-seven is likely a coin flip series with how things have unraveled this year. A series against the Suns, even as the No. 7 seed it would not be surprising to see the Lakers favored in such a series.

A lot still has to play out in the last few days of the regular season and things can always change. But if things align the way they look right now, it might just be a benefit for the Lakers to go through the play-in tournament based on potential future matchups.