Los Angeles, CA
Kobe said they'd do it, but will the Lakers make the playoffs with 24 games remaining?
The Lakers (28-30) have a shot to advance to the postseason but three things need to happen...
1) Lakers win 15 games.
2) The Utah Jazz need to lose more than half their remaining games.
3) Hope that Portland and/or Dallas do not string together a late season surge.
With 24 games to go, the Lakers' fate is in their hands. Hollinger's stats project the Lakers to finish 41-41 and indicate the Lakers have a 35% chance to advance to the postseason. The Lakers are eyeballing 43 wins if they want to clinch the #8 seed, which translates into a 15-9 record for the rest of the season.
The Utah Jazz (31-27) are the weakest link out of the eight teams currently holding potential playoff berth. Hollinger's playoff odds suggest Utah has a 65% chance to make the playoffs and projects them to finish the season 43-39. The Jazz currently hold the #7 seed, but Houston (31-28) has an easier schedule the rest of the season and are expected to finish in the #7 spot, or the #6 spot if Golden State (33-25) continues their skid (8 losses in their last 11 games including a heart-breaker against the Knicks).
Hollinger's Playoff Odds - NBA Western Conference:Utah plays 8 out of their last 12 games at home, and 3 out of their last 6 games are against the bottom feeders in the West (Minnesota and New Orleans). Meanwhile, Dallas plays 12 out of their last 18 games at home. In addition, the Lakers cannot overlook the Portland Blazers, who play 6 out of their last 8 games at home including a game against the Lakers.
San Antonio - 100%
Oklahoma City - 100%
LA Clippers - 100%
Denver - 99.9%
Memphis - 99.9%
Houston - 98.2%
Golden State - 90.7%
Utah - 65.2%
LA Lakers - 34.9%
Dallas - 6%
Portland - 4.9%
Minnesota - 0.1%
New Orleans, Phoenix, and Sacramento - ZERO
The Lakers are a decent team at home (18-11) but struggle on the road (10-19). Out of 24 remaining games, they play 12 home and 12 road games (including one game against their intra-city rival the Clippers). The Lakers face five challenging back-to-backs with all five on the road. The Lakers are 4-7 this season in B2Bs.
Good news for the Lakers... Dwight Howard has been playing the best he has all season. Over the last six games, Howard averaged 13.5 rebounds and 17.3 points (on 59.7% from the floor), but he continued to shoot bricks at the free throw line connecting on only 41.3% of his attempts (down from his 48.5% season average).
The Lakers have a favorable schedule to end the season with their last nine games on the West Coast. Seven out of their final eight games are played in Los Angeles, and they also end the season with three consecutive home games. The Lakers play Houston on the last day of the season, which might come into play for postseason consideration. Utah and Houston both hold an edge with a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers, so the Lakers cannot afford to tie either team.
Lakers' Remaining Schedule:Based on the Lakers home/road record and the strength of their opponents (combined opponents' winning percentage is .487), we project the Lakers to bubble the playoffs and finish in ninth place in the West with a 41-41 record. We anticipate the Lakers will finish the season with a 13-11 clip (or 9-3 at home and 4-8 on the road).
Thu, Fab 28 vs Minnesota .370
Sun, Mar 3 vs Atlanta .589
Tue, Mar 5 @ Oklahoma City .737
Wed, Mar 6 @ New Orleans .339
Fri, Mar 8 vs Toronto .397
Sun, Mar 10 vs Chicago .561
Tue, Mar 12 @ Orlando .276
Wed, Mar 13 @ Atlanta .589
Fri, Mar 15 @ Indiana .632
Sun, Mar 17 vs Sacramento .339
Mon, Mar 18 @ Phoenix .339
Fri, Mar 22 vs Washington .321
Mon, Mar 25 @ Golden State .569
Wed, Mar 27 @ Minnesota .370
Thu, Mar 28 @ Milwaukee .500
Sat, Mar 30 @ Sacramento .339
Tue, Apr 2 vs Dallas .439
Fri, Apr 5 vs Memphis .679
Sun, Apr 7 @ Los Angeles Clippers .695
Tue, Apr 9 vs New Orleans .339
Wed, Apr 10 @ Portland .464
Fri, Apr 12 vs Golden State .529
Sun, Apr 14 vs San Antonio .763
Wed, Apr 17 vs Houston .525
The Lakers have to steal a couple of games if they want to extend the season. One of those could be April 14th at home against San Antonio. With a potential #1 seed locked up, Spurs' head coach Greg Popovich might rest his starters, which should increase the Lakers' chances to win that match up.
Betting wise... the Lakers are 23-34-1 ATS this season. They are 1-4 ATS as a home dog at Staples and 5-15 as an overall underdog. The OVER is 7-5 in the month of February, and 13-13-2 since January 1st.