Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives on Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on March 25, 2013 in Oakland, California. The Lakers need a win on Friday night to stay ahead in the race for the playoffs.
Three games remain in the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers regular season. If they do not win all three games, only three games may remain in the entire season. It is crunch time in Laker land, and the one constant inside the Lakers locker room has been the expectation that a championship is still possible.
Kobe Bryant talked about trying to make the playoffs and hitting the reset button once the Lakers are in. For anyone keeping track, that would amount to the 50th time the Lakers have reset the season. In any case, the team is playing significantly better recently due primarily to the reemergence of Pau Gasol.
Bryant has consistently elevated his play this season, but without Gasol whole, the Lakers lacked that special bit of quality for most of the season. Now, with Gasol averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists over his past five games, the Lakers are building momentum at a crucial moment.
With Dwight Howard muscling down low, the Lakers also have the physical presence necessary to compete in the playoffs—if they get in, that is. With three games to go, the Lakers have three tough opponents coming to visit.
On Friday night, the Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors; on Sunday, the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs; and on Wednesday, the Lakers finish the season against the Houston Rockets.
Three games remain, and the Lakers likely need three wins in order to make the postseason. Outside of playing well themselves, the Lakers have plenty of reasons they should win all three games. First, the Warriors are on the second night of a back-to-back. Second, the Spurs will likely rest some or all of their stars. Third, the Rockets already clinched a playoffs spot, so they are not playing for anything in the season finale.
The Lakers can and should make the playoffs, but this team has been anything but predictable this season.