After defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers have officially clinched the first seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Since they now have a six-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers, who are in second place, and there are only five games left to play, the Lakers have no way of losing the top seed.
While usually a very important factor for success in the playoffs, with the NBA playoffs this year all being played in a bubble in Orlando with no fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first seed might not be as meaningful in these playoffs, considering that there is no home-court advantage.
After failing to make the playoffs last season, the Lakers immediately became one of the best teams in the league with the signing of former New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who provides the perfect complement to team leader Lebron James game.
The rest of the playoff race is still wide open, with the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns all being possible opponents in the first round for the Lakers.
With James joining the team last year and failing to get them to the playoffs, many doubted that James (now 35) would be able to make another NBA Finals appearance, after dominating a less potent Eastern Conference for the majority of his career.
He now gets a chance to prove his critics wrong, albeit with significant help from the dominant Davis.