This hasn’t been a very forgettable season for the Los Angeles Lakers. They are at the bottom of the standings, have dealt with injuries all year long and have seen the Russell Westbrook experiment go wrong.
Los Angeles is on a three-game losing streak and has the third-hardest remaining schedule in the league. Yet, it's still possible for the Lakers to make the playoffs, even with LeBron James out until next week. Here’s how the Lakers can make the playoffs.
First, Anthony Davis has to come back. He’s missed the last 17 games with a sprained ankle, truly derailing the Lakers’ second half push. He is expected to try to return on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, which would be the perfect time to come back. If Davis can come back and play like a star, the Lakers have a starting point.
Secondly, the Spurs need to be just as bad as the Lakers. San Antonio has a home-and-home with Portland in the next two games. After that, the Spurs play Denver, Minnesota,Golden State and Dallas. That is a tough way to end the season and could cause them to miss the playoffs. If I give the Spurs both wins against the Blazers, that is a 2-4 record. That record is manageable for the Lakers – who are half a game up right now – to match.
Let’s say everything goes right over the last two weeks and the Lakers make the play-in. Hopefully, they have LeBron James back – giving the Lakers their dynamic duo again. The Lakers will likely have to go on the road to New Orleans and knock off the Pelicans – who are in danger of missing the tournament themselves.
I made a few bold predictions for the play-in tournament earlier this week, and the Lakers earning the No. 8 seed was a possibility. It’s going to take a lot of mediocre basketball, injury luck and LeBron James being LeBron James, but the path for the Lakers is set.
The first step for the Lakers is figuring out a way to upset the Utah Jazz, who are a 13-point favorite.
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