Report: Lakers receive big break in playoff push with Jazz center likely to miss rest of season

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers have an extremely busy and pivotal upcoming week, but it just got a little less daunting.

In an unfortunate piece of news for the Utah Jazz, rising star Walker Kessler is reportedly entering concussion protocol and will likely miss the remainder of the regular season. The Lakers and Jazz are set to face off twice this week.

While it’s a tough way for Kessler’s impressive rookie season to potentially come to an end, it’s a notable break for the Lakers.

The stars may be aligning for the seventh-place Lakers to escape the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. The team is suddenly just half a game behind both the sixth-place Golden State Warriors and fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers, meaning the Lakers are entirely within striking distance of both teams.

In addition to facing the Jazz twice, the other two teams the Lakers will play this week are the Clippers and Phoenix Suns.

While earning an outright playoff bid would be a major accomplishment for the Lakers, they may want to be careful what they get themselves into. The No. 5 seed in the Western Conference is likely going to have to face the Suns in the first round of the playoffs, and in many ways, Phoenix looks like one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.

For that reason, there are likely many Lakers fans out there who are hoping to earn the No. 6 seed but not higher. That’s a realistic possibility, but it’s just one of several potential outcomes.

For now, the Lakers will focus on the Kessler-less Jazz. If the 21-year-old’s regular season is truly over, he’s going to finish the year with averages of 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game to go along with a league-best shooting clip of 72.0 percent from the field.

It’s worth noting that the Jazz are still alive in the play-in race, so they have something to play for this week. Utah is currently the No. 12 team in the West, sitting 1.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 10 spot. The Jazz are surely motivated to steal a postseason bid and some headlines all in one swoop.

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Jason is excited about the LeBron James era of Lakers basketball and hopes that the end result will be multiple championships.