Mike Greenberg Get Up Lakers Screen grab: ‘Get Up’

The NBA’s annual Play-In Tournament will begin on Tuesday night with the New Orleans Pelicans facing the Los Angeles Lakers.

But while the winner of the game will advance to become the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg believes that the Lakers would be better off losing on Tuesday night.

Greeny’s logic: while the winner of Tuesday night’s game will be guaranteed a spot in the proper playoffs, that team will also be tasked with facing the defending champion Denver Nuggets. And that could amount to an effective death sentence for the Lakers, who have struggled against Denver in recent seasons, including being on the wrong side of a four-game sweep in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, the loser of Tuesday’s matchup between the Lakers and Pelicans will face the winner of Tuesday’s game between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. The winner of the ensuing matchup between the loser of Pelicans/Lakers and winner of the Kings/Warriors will qualify for the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, giving them a more viable — but still difficult — matchup against the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder.

Got it?

Greenberg first presented his theory on Monday and was met with resistance. That, however, didn’t stop him from doubling down on Tuesday.

“You tell me how it does not better serve the Lakers to lose tonight’s game,” Greenberg posed to panelists Tim Legler and Brian Windhorst.

While Legler and Windhorst both agreed with Greenberg that the Thunder would be a better matchup for the Lakers than the Nuggets, they both said that winning on Tuesday remains their best course of action. As Legler noted, there’s no guarantee that the Lakers would beat either the Kings or Warriors in the ensuing Play-In game, while Windhorst pointed to the rest advantages that winning on Tuesday would provide for LeBron James.

Still, Greeny stuck to his guns, re-presenting his theory to Andraya Carter later in the show.

“Yesterday, you absolutely yelled at me about my belief. And I hope that now that you’ve had a day to let it sink in, you’ve realized the error of your ways,” Greenberg said. “The Lakers would inarguably be better off if they lose tonight than if they win.”

“Nothing good come from ducking smoke, Greeny,” Carter replied, refusing to repent. “Nothing good comes from trying to dodge an opponent. You put yourself in the mindset that you’re not talented enough to beat that team. I don’t like it.”

Greenberg, however, had one last retort up his sleeve.

“I’ve been ducking smoke all my life and it’s worked out OK for me,” he replied.

No argument here.

This isn’t the first time that Greeny has had a controversial take in this vein, as it was less than a year ago that he argued that the Lakers should rest James and Anthony Davis for their Game 5 matchup against the Golden State Warriors in the second round of last season’s playoffs. Los Angeles — which didn’t rest James or Davis — lost the game (but won the series), so perhaps Greeny’s onto something here.

Or maybe — and more likely — he just needed something to argue about heading into Tuesday’s Play-In game.

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About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.