The Lakers’ white board displayed this message that coach Mike D’Antoni wrote following the Lakers’ loss Thursday to the Clippers.
“Recharge your batteries. Come back ready to play.”
The Lakers better have stocked up on batteries and power outlets. They’re going to need all the energy they can to climb back in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Lakers (25-29) enter their game Wednesday against the Boston Celtics (28-24) at Staples Center in 10th place in the Western Conference. They trail the Houston Rockets (29-26) by 3 1/2 games for the eighth playoff spot.
Nothing is mathematically impossible considering the Lakers have 28 games remaining. But there’s a good reason why TNT analyst Kenny Smith believes there’s a “zero percent” chance the Lakers make the postseason. Or that oddsmakers at Bovada.com are giving the Lakers 25-1 odds to win the 2013 NBA championship.
Only six of the Lakers’ 14 road games feature playoff opponents (Denver, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Indiana, Golden State and the Clippers). But the Lakers’ 9-18 road record shows that nothing is guaranteed. Among their eight games against non-playoff teams (Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Sacramento and Portland), the Lakers have also lost this season to five of those teams.
The Lakers have a 16-11 home record, but their 14 remaining home games feature nine opponents they’ve already lost to this season. That includes six playoff caliber teams (Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio and Houston) and four non-playoff opponents (Portland, Toronto, Sacramento, Dallas).
It’s still possible the Lakers could still pull this off. But it won’t be easy.
The Lakers would have to go 23-5 the rest of the way to finish with a 48-34 record, the average record the eighth seed has finished with in the past five seasons. The Lakers may recognize the urgency and ensure wins against the sub.500 opponents they had lost to earlier this season. Like they’ve done this season against the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers are also capable of collecting a signature win.
But the Lakers haven’t shown a definitive pattern in doing so.
Add in Pau Gasol’s long-term right foot injury. Add in Dwight Howard’s limitations stemmed from back surgery and a right shoulder. Add in Mike D’Antoni’s struggle in maximizing his talent. Add in his talent’s reluctance in buying into his system. Mix it all together and it still remains clear this will be a difficult task.