Gilbert Arenas proclaims Lakers will ‘smack’ Thunder in 1st round, then beat ‘Flippers’ in 2nd round

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas believes that the Los Angeles Lakers will make the Western Conference Finals in the 2023-24 season.

Arenas detailed his path for the Lakers, who he has landing with the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, saying they’d beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers on their run this coming postseason.

“I keep telling you, Western Conference Finals, dawg, against Denver,” Arenas said of the Lakers. “How many times I gotta say the same thing? We gon’ be in the eighth seed. We gon’ smack through OKC. Then we gon’ beat on the Flippers, right? If they make it. We gon’ beat on them, and then we probably might take the L to Denver, but we gon’ make that a matchup this year.”

The Lakers made the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets last season, but they were swept by the eventual NBA champions.

There are a lot of things that have to go right for Los Angeles to make Arenas’ prediction a reality, starting with the Lakers getting through the play-in tournament in the West.

Right now, Los Angeles holds the No. 9 seed in the conference, but the team is just three games back of the No. 6, which is where it would need to get to to avoid the play-in. If the Lakers stay in the No. 9 spot, they’d have to win a No. 9 versus No. 10 play-in matchup as well as beat the loser from the No. 7 versus No. 8 play-in matchup to earn the No. 8 seed in the conference.

It won’t be easy to win multiple win-or-go-home games, but the Lakers took care of business in their lone play-in game last season to earn the No. 7 seed in the West.

If the Lakers do end up in the No. 8 spot – like Arenas predicted – there’s a chance the team could face Denver in the first round. Ahead of Monday night’s action in the NBA, Denver has a half-game lead over the Thunder for the No. 1 seed in the conference.

For Arenas’ scenario to come to fruition, the Thunder would have to beat out Denver (and Minnesota, which is one game back of the Nuggets) for the top spot in the West. Los Angeles is 3-1 against OKC in the regular season, so it could be a favorable playoff draw if the Lakers get the young Thunder in the first round.

As for the Clippers, they have fallen off since the All-Star break. The team is currently 5.5 games out of the No. 1 seed in the West and only has a half-game lead on the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 4 seed. Not only that, but Los Angeles has struggled against teams over .500 since the break.

The Lakers are also 3-1 against the Clippers this season, so Arenas’ prediction certainly carries some weight, as long as the seeding ends up the way he’s expecting.

For now, the Lakers need to focus on closing out the 2023-24 regular season strong to put themselves in the best position to earn a playoff spot.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.