At Halfway Point, Playoffs Still Within Reach for Lakers. We Project.

Lakers huddle nash gasol bryant howard

Please see updated post: “12 games remaining. How Must the Lakers Must Finish to Stay in Playoff Picture?”

 

The Los Angeles Lakers completed the 1st half of the 2012-2013 regular season Tuesday night with a 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The loss marks their 3rd in a row and 9th loss in their last 11 games. For a season that started with such high expectations the Lakers now find themselves on the verge of not even qualifying for the postseason.

The season seems like it is quickly slipping away from the Lakers who now stand at a record of 17-24, 4 full games behind the Houston Rockets for the last and final playoff spot in the West.  While it doesn’t look good at the moment, the reality is that there is still quite a bit of season remaining; 41 games to be exact. Fortunately for the Lakers, the teams holding the bottom 3 playoff spots are not lighting the league on fire.

The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, who hold the 6th and 7th spot in the West respectively, are horrible road teams that are susceptible to losing streaks anytime they have extended trips away from the friendly confines of home. The Houston Rockets are an extremely young team that has been struggling of late. The Rockets just snapped a 7 game losing streak on Monday with a road win against the woeful Charlotte Bobcats.

The current Western Conference Standings as of 1/22/13 (up to 12th place):

nba standings pic 1-22-13

Many in the media have thrown numbers as high as 48 to 46 wins that the Lakers would need to make the playoffs this season based on the records of previous 8th seeded teams. That is not a good way of projecting the win total that the Lakers will need for this season. As you can see from the projected win totals above, the teams in the West this season are just not performing as well as the bottom seeds have in the past. This is good news for the Lakers since it will make their climb back to the playoff picture much smaller.

Here is how the Lakers must finish in order to crack the top 8 in the West and get into the playoffs, based on the projections above:

projected win loss for playoffs lakers 1-22-13

We’ve blanked out the top 3 seeds because they are out of reach for the Lakers outside of complete tank jobs by the top teams and a miracle. Even getting a #4 or #5 seed would require the Lakers to have to play almost perfect. The bottom 3 seeds are still within the Lakers reach if they are able to get on track and just finish out the season like the team that everybody expected. They have the talent, now they just need to play like it.

– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern”