The Los Angeles Lakers play by far their most important game of the regular season — while still missing several key pieces — as they face the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
As the standings currently sit, the Lakers and Trail Blazers have identical records at 37-29, with L.A. sitting at the No. 6 seed via a tiebreaker and the Trail Blazers at No. 7. Normally, the difference between sixth and seventh wouldn’t matter, but not any more thanks to the introduction of the play-in tournament.
Because of the new play-in format, the No. 7 seed will not get a week off like the No.