Why the Lakers’ 2019 NBA playoff odds are next to impossible | NBA
The Lakers are still mathematically alive in the race for the 2019 NBA playoffs, but not even IMF agent Ethan Hunt would accept this mission.
After losing to the Nuggets on Wednesday night, the Lakers are 6.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with only 17 games left on their regular season schedule. This latest blow came only days after a brutal defeat at the hands of the Clippers, one that prompted reporters to ask LeBron James what he expects the team to do when — not if — it is eliminated from postseason contention.
“Continue to be a professional, and be as great as you can be every single night, no matter the circumstances,” James said. “‘Cause someone is always watching.”
Asked what he expects from the team’s motication if the Lakers get eliminated, LeBron said he doesn’t know, but said for himself: “Continue to be a professional, and be as great as you can be every single night no matter the circumstances. ‘Cause someone is always watching.” pic.twitter.com/5HT0gRDoSY
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 5, 2019
Notice that James didn’t scoff at the question or shut it down by informing media members the Lakers will make the playoffs against all odds. He seems to be resigned to the fact that Los Angeles is already done, and well, he’s right.
The Lakers are buried in the Western Conference standings.
If we weren’t talking about the Lakers and LeBron, this team would have been written off before falling to the Clippers. That loss just reinforced what was already known.
Los Angeles is now closer to the Grizzlies at No. 14 than the Clippers in the No. 8 slot. The Lakers are down to a less than one percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight’s latest projections, the same odds as the Pelicans, a team that has placed its top-five player on a minutes restriction.
|Playoff seed||Team||Games back|
The Clippers and Spurs already own tiebreakers against the Lakers.
The battle for LA was important not only because the Lakers needed to rack up as many wins as possible, but also because of the tiebreaker implications.
NBA tiebreakers are first determined by head-to-head records, then by division records. The Lakers could even the season series at 2-2 with one more head-to-head game remaining on April 5, but the Clippers (11-3) are far superior to the Lakers (7-6) within the Pacific Division.
As for the Spurs, San Antonio already took three of the four matchups against the Lakers, so that head-to-head tiebreaker is gone.
The Lakers’ remaining schedule is brutal.
It’s a rough road ahead. The Lakers face the 10th-toughest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon, and only five of their final 17 games come against teams under .500.
|March 9||vs. Celtics||40-26|
|March 12||at Bulls||19-47|
|March 14||at Raptors||46-19|
|March 15||at Pistons||32-31|
|March 17||at Knicks||13-52|
|March 19||at Bucks||48-16|
|March 22||vs. Nets||34-33|
|March 24||vs. Kings||32-32|
|March 26||vs. Wizards||27-37|
|March 27||at Jazz||37-27|
|March 29||vs. Hornets||29-35|
|March 31||at Pelicans||30-37|
|April 2||at Thunder||39-25|
|April 4||vs. Warriors||44-20|
|April 5||at Clippers||37-29|
|April 7||vs. Jazz||37-27|
|April 9||vs. Trail Blazers||39-25|
Meanwhile, the Clippers (16th-toughest remaining schedule) and Spurs (24th) travel relatively easy roads down the stretch. The latest projections show the last two teams in the West playoff field will finish around 44-45 wins, meaning the Lakers would need to go 14-3 for the mere possibility of reaching the first round. (And that’s without mentioning the Kings or the additional help the Lakers need.)
Good luck with that.
Vegas sportsbooks are already operating as though the Lakers have been eliminated.
Yep, we’re all done here. Vegas knows.
The dreaded triple-X odds for Lakers to make the playoffs.
Westgate has taken the prop off the board after the Lakers’ loss to the Clippers last night. https://t.co/GLtZDXYtEF
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) March 5, 2019