Now that the Los Angeles Lakers actually won a game and showed some sign of life, there is a genuine interest in taking a look at the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs. Currently, the Lakers are tied with Utah for the final spot, but the Jazz hold the tie-breaker.
As such, if both teams finished with identical records, the Jazz would play in the postseason, and the Lakers would go on vacation. At this time of year, the loss column is more important than the wins column, and the Dallas Mavericks are only one loss behind the Lakers and Jazz.
The Mavericks also happen to be the Lakers’ next opponents, so that game could be a devastating blow to either team’s playoffs hopes.
For the Lakers, their final eight games include five Western Conference playoff teams. With Dallas on the cusp, six of the eight games are against potential playoff teams.
The two games against non-postseason competition are actually on a back-to-back, and the Lakers have not swept one of those all season. Considering the back-end of that two-game sequence is at Portland, odds are the 2012-13 Lakers will finish the season never having won both legs of a back-to-back.
In order to make the playoffs, the Lakers must beat teams like the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, and Grizzlies. LA must earn the right to play in the playoffs against playoff teams. The Lakers are significantly more desperate than their opponents for the remained of the season, so if they cannot beat playoff teams at a time like this, they don’t really have any business being in the playoffs.
When the Lakers come across the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the penultimate game of the season, LA will most certainly still be battling to secure a final postseason place. The Spurs will likely have first place locked up by then. If a desperate Lakers team cannot overcome a Spurs team with with almost nothing to play for, what is the point of making the playoffs and facing San Antonio in a best of seven series?
Simply put, the Lakers need to beat good teams to make the playoffs. In the process, the hope is that the Lakers will prove they are a good team, and the playoffs may not be a complete disaster after all. Also, there always remains hope for a miracle run.
It may be the slightest sliver, but every Laker fan is still holding onto that hope.