Los Angeles Lakers: Analyzing Remaining Schedule and Playoff Chances

The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to run out of chances. But there is still time, and the Lakers are only three games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Then again, aren’t the Lakers always three games out of the last spot?

If you buy the statistics calculated by Hollinger’s Playoff Odds (via ESPN), the Lakers will need 44 wins to pass the Rockets—or whoever holds that eighth spot at the end of the season. At 28-30, Los Angeles would need to finish the year on a 16-8 run.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Lakers have the fourth-easiest schedule in the NBA when you look at the winning percentages of the remaining opponents. This may give the fans hope, but Los Angeles will still need to beat some quality opponents if they are going to make the postseason.

If you look at the remaining opponents, there are some challenges. Specifically, Los Angeles has not done well against the top-tier teams in the Western Conference this year. Therefore, the Lakers will need to beat just about every lower-echelon team and also take out a few of the elite squads.

Part of the reason that the remaining schedule is regarded as manageable is that the Lakers have 13 games left against teams with losing records. Franchise like New Orleans (twice), Washington, Phoenix, Orlando and Sacramento (twice) should result in additions to the win column.

Unfortunately, there are also some “trap” games against opponents with losing records. Dallas and Portland come to mind, particularly since the Lakers must play the Trail Blazers on the road. Speaking of the road, the Lakers must play 12 games away from Staples.

Assuming that the Lakers can win all the games against losing squads, they will be most of the way to their 16 wins. Granted, that may be an overly optimistic assumption.

Beating the winning clubs is going to a much bigger challenge. The Lakers must play Chicago,...

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