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2011 NBA Playoff Picture: Lakers Need Wins To Remain No. 2 Seed In Western Conference

The Los Angeles Lakers still control their own destiny for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but the road is getting tougher and tougher to traverse. Wins on Monday night by both the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder have forced the Lakers to actually win a game (or likely two), something they haven't done in a week and a half. The Lakers host the top seed San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night in something of a must-win game for the purple and gold.

NBA Western Conference Standings
Seed Team Record
2 Dallas 56-25
3 Lakers 55-25
4 Oklahoma City 55-26

The Lakers have the fewest back-to-back games in the NBA this season, with 15, but they end their season with games on the final two nights. After tonight's game with the Spurs, they travel to Sacramento for Wednesday's regular season finale against the Kings. The Lakers could finish anywhere from the No. 2 to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

The Lakers hold the tiebreaker over both Dallas and Oklahoma City, and the Mavericks hold the tiebreaker over the Thunder.

The Lakers' magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed remains at two. Either they win their last two games, or get one win and hope Dallas loses at home to New Orleans on Wednesday. The Lakers' magic number to stay ahead of Oklahoma City is just one, so the only way the Lakers finish as the No. 4 seed is if they lose both remaining games coupled with the Thunder losing at home to the Bucks Wednesday night.

There is one more factor in play. If the Lakers were to somehow get to the NBA Finals, they would not have home court advantage against either the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat. However, they hold the tiebreaker over the Boston Celtics by virtue of a better record against the opposite conference. The Lakers need just one win, or a Boston loss to the Knicks on Wednesday to ensure that possible advantage over the Celtics in what would be an NBA Finals rematch.

For more news and information on the Lakers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.