BLOGTABLE: Can the Lakers still make the Playoffs?
NBA.com Global on Feb 07, 2019 08:41 AM
FILE - OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 25: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors on December 25, 2018 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Lakers will need to win ____ games to make the playoffs. Can they do it, with only 28 games left?
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Steve Aschburner: No. Too many teams clawing for the last two spots in the West, with six teams -- from Utah at No. 7 to Dallas at No. 12 -- separated by six games in the standings, as of this morning. The Clippers appear to have tapped out with the Tobias Harris trade, but the others seem to feel a low seed and quick elimination at seventh or eighth remains a worthy goal (competiting for real, what a concept). Whether the Lakers add Anthony Davis or not, getting to 44 or 45 victories means going 17-11 or 18-10. Factor in the convulsive strategic, rotation and manpower changes that would accompany a Davis acquisition or the emotional quagmire if they don’t get him – six or seven players granted a reprieve from sudden banishment – and that’s too much to overcome, IMO.
Shaun Powell: Probably 20, because 47-48 wins is likely the get-in price for the playoffs in the West. If LeBron James suffers any relapse or gets reinsured, that's a wrap for this crew, and coach Luke Walton's job as well -- undeserved, in my opinion. But still.
John Schuhmann: The eighth-place Clippers certainly did their arena-mates a favor by trading one of the only healthy players on their roster who can consistently put the ball in the basket. So that eighth spot looks like it will come down to the 28-25 Sacramento Kings, who are carrying a 12-year playoff drought (tied for the third longest in NBA history), and the 27-27 Lakers, who are carrying a five-year drought (the longest in franchise history), which is kind of fun. The Kings have a two-game edge in the loss column, have the easier remaining schedule, and didn't lose by 42 points in Indiana on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). But the Lakers have a 2-1 edge head-to-head, with the final meeting in L.A. on March 24 (Mar. 25, PHL time). Both teams have better records than their point differential would indicate (they've both been outscored this season). They Kings have the point differential of a team that's 24-29, while the Lakers have the point differential of a team that's 25-29. Based on current record and point differential, the Kings are on pace for 41 wins and the Lakers are on pace for 40, but time will tell if the Lakers remain as fractured they were on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Obviously, what happens between now and 3 p.m. ET on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) could shake things up.
Sekou Smith: The Lakers' math is brutal. They need to win 18 of their final 28 games just to stay in the mix and 20 to stay locked in until the final days of the regular season. And that's not factoring in what could transpire at Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) trade deadline and how that could impact things for whoever is left and/or joins that locker room. Anything is possible with a healthy LeBron James. But it was much easier to buy into that theory when LeBron was in the Eastern Conference and the terrain wasn't nearly as rugged as it will surely be this season in the Western Conference. Depending on what goes down at the deadline, I'm not 100 percent certain that the playoffs will be a realistic goal for this bunch. And yes, I am well aware of the expectations that were built before LeBron's 17-game injury absence (and no, I wasn't one of these people predicting they would challenge the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals). Get ready for a roller coaster finish to this regular season in LA.