Currently sitting two games ahead of the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks with 12 games left to play, the Los Angeles Lakers face their final extended road trip of the 2013 season beginning against the Golden State Warriors. With a record of 36-34, the Lakers probably have to win seven of their next 12 games to ensure a playoff berth.
And while that spot is not a given, especially on the heels of really bad losses to bottom feeders Phoenix and Washington, there are still preferable matchups for this team that still has tremendous top end talent.
See, unlike the regular season, there are no back-to-back games in the normal NBA playoff format. After starting 17-25, the Lakers have gone 19-9 largely because they have played well in games with at least one day of rest in between. Four of their nine losses since January 23 have been the second game of a back-to-back.
In other words, this aging team is better suited for the grind of the postseason, where adjustments and recovery time benefit older rosters. Still, there are definitely opponents that suit this Laker team better than others. So here are the three best possible first-round matchups for the Lakers.