The Los Angeles Lakers will play their 2020 NBA playoffs opener Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers or Memphis Grizzlies in their first playoff game since April 28, 2013.
After missing the playoffs for a franchise record-six consecutive seasons, the Lakers had a 52-19 record in the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 season, the best in the Western Conference. The Lakers are tied with the Toronto Raptors for the league’s second-best record behind the 56-17 Milwaukee Bucks. Toronto will conclude the regular season Friday by facing the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers’ first playoff opponent will be determined in the play-in tournament between the Portland Trail Blazers (35-39) and Memphis Grizzlies (34-39) which will begin Saturday.
As part of the plan to restart the season, the NBA decided that if the team with a conference’s eighth-best winning percentage was four or fewer games ahead of the team with the ninth-best winning percentage, the teams would play a play-in tournament to decide the eighth seed in the conference.
“Without a full 82-game season, we wanted to create an opportunity for the ninth seed to have an opportunity as long as it was within four games,” Tim Frank, the NBA’s senior vice president, league operations communications, told City News Service.
If Portland wins Saturday, it will advance to face the Lakers. If Memphis wins, it will face the Trail Blazers again Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Lakers.
The Lakers were 2-1 against Portland and 3-1 against the Grizzlies in the regular season.
Game 2 of the Lakers best-of-seven first-round series will be played Thursday, Game 3 Aug. 22 and Game 4 Aug. 24. If additional games are necessary, they would be played Aug. 26, Aug. 28 and Aug. 30, the NBA announced Thursday.
If the Lakers win their first-round series, they would play the winner of the Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder series in the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers have not won a playoff series since a seven-game first-round victory over the Denver Nuggets in 2012.
The entire NBA postseason will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, without spectators.
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