Sunday Topic: Playoffs for the L.A. Lakers?
The first half of the 2012-13 season hasn’t gone quite as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the season, the Lakers seemed like the team to beat after putting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. After a great offseason, many were ready to put the Larry O’Brien trophy on a flight to L.A.
However, talent on paper doesn’t always translate to wins. The Lakers are currently 21-26, on their third head coach and currently sit outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, which brings us to this week’s Sunday Topic:
Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs this season?
HOOPSWORLD’s analysts weigh in:
“We’re 47 games into the 2012-13 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers and, astoundingly, no one still has any shred of an idea of who or what this team is going to be. Plain and simple, the Lakers are a team without an identity. Featuring a bloated payroll that hasn’t meshed well and has failed to live up to expectations all season long, it’s difficult to see how this team can get its act together to make the postseason.
Unexpectedly in Los Angeles, the injury to All-Star center Dwight Howard may be a blessing in disguise for this team going forward. The insertion of Pau Gasol into the starting lineup in place of Howard could provide the spark that the 21-26 Lakers need to make a case for being a playoff team. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves just two nights ago, Gasol scored 22 points, 12 rebounds and had three blocks to lead the Lakers to a 111-100 victory.
Gasol gaining the confidence that comes from succeeding in the starting lineup with Howard on the shelf could be crucial for this team heading into the second half of the season. If Gasol can continue to resemble the difference-maker he was in the Lakers’ last two NBA titles instead of the disgruntled bench player he’s been recently, things will undoubtedly start to look up in L.A.
It isn’t a lock that these Lakers make the playoffs, and there’s an even smaller chance that they’ll actually contend, but with the talent in place this team is bound to make a run. With unproven teams like the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets standing in their way, the safe bet is for Los Angeles to be left standing come April – even if it’s just as a seventh or eighth place squad in the West.” – Derek Page
“The Lakers have put themselves in a position where they must play at a high level for the rest of the season if they want to make the playoffs. They can’t afford to have any more long losing streaks or significant injuries because they’re trying to dig out of the deep hole that they created with their early-season struggles.
Luckily for the Lakers, the Western Conference is weaker than in most years. The young teams ahead of L.A. in the standings – the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets – have started to come back down to earth after surprisingly good starts. Now, the Lakers are only four games back from the eighth seed. The door is still open for the Lakers, but they must play well on more nights than not.
It’s hard to imagine a team with this much talent missing the playoffs, but it is possible. However, I think the Lakers will find their rhythm. With that said, they need Kobe Bryant to continue being the team’s playmaker rather than shot taker. When everyone gets involved, the Lakers are a much better team because of their balanced attack. I believe the Lakers will finish as the seventh or eighth seed in the West and, if they can get some momentum toward the end of the season, they may be a dark horse come playoff time.” – Alex Kennedy
“Yes. While it remains unlikely, I still think the Lakers (somehow, someway) find a way to sneak into the playoffs. Despite playing worse than anybody on earth could have possibly predicted, L.A – as of Sunday morning – finds themselves in 10th place in the Western Conference, four games behind the 8th place Houston Rockets. In a “typical” season, the Lakers losing 26 of their first 47 games would leave them with little to no chance of qualifying for the postseason. Over the last three (non-lockout-shortened) regular seasons, the 8th seed in the West finished the year with an average of 48 wins, or 14 games above. 500. However, this season, the aforementioned Rockets are just 3 games above .500 more than halfway through the 2012-2013 campaign.
So, as unlucky as the Lakers have been in many respects this season, they do have that going for them. If they can get hot, and rack up a few modest winning streaks, they have an opportunity to get right back in the playoff picture. Also working in L.A.’s favor is their upcoming schedule. Over the first half of the season, the Lakers faced the second toughest schedule in the NBA (according to “strength of schedule.”) Thus, as a result, they have a slew of winning games over the next two months. Can Dwight Howard stay healthy? Will Pau Gasol find happiness and contentment coming off the bench? These are all answered questions at this stage of the game. But if I was forced to guess where the Lakers will be come late April, I’d think they’ll be an extremely scary 8th seed in the 2012-13 NBA playoffs.” – Tommy Beer
“The Los Angeles Lakers have not done themselves a lot of favors with how poorly they played in the first half of the season. However, I’m going to say that they do make the playoffs.
They do have a lot of ground to make up, but in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash they have two guys I just don’t feel comfortable betting against. They are finding their chemistry together and have the team looking as good as they have all season long.
What makes this a risky bet to make is that the Lakers have to play almost .750 basketball in order to get in the playoffs. They always have had a flare for the dramatics, though, and I expect them to just barely sneak in.” – Yannis Koutroupis
“You often hear it said that the NBA’s 82-game season is a long season, and much can happen within that time frame. That’s precisely what the Los Angeles Lakers are counting on as they look to rebound from a miserable start to find their way into the Western Conference’s playoff picture. Despite their surprisingly sub-par start, they now sit just four games out of the West’s eighth seed, and appear to be gaining some momentum.
While winning is the first key to the Lakers’ success, they also need one of the current playoff teams to lose some games and let them back into the picture. The Houston Rockets have been up and down of late, and could relinquish their hold on the eighth seed. The Utah Jazz is also very vulnerable despite their current spot at seventh in the West.
With as much talent as the Lakers have, it seemed to be a matter of time before they figured things out, and now that they appear to have done that they have only to keep winning and wait for one of the weaker teams above them to drop a few games. Then, they’ll be right back in the mix for the West’s postseason bracket.” – Bill Ingram
Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs this season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!