After 57 NBA games played, the Lakers find themselves at 28-29 and a precarious 10th in the Western Conference. Currently 3 games behind their Los Angeles rival Clippers for the 8th seed, they’ll definitely need to raise their game to feature in the post-season.

Difficult Transition

It’s no secret that LeBron James has dominated the NBA’s Eastern Conference throughout his career. He won the conference for 8 consecutive years, admittedly against some less than stellar competition.

Whilst LeBron would’ve expected a bit of an adjustment coming out West, he definitely would’ve hoped for a better season than this. The West is definitely a deep conference this season, but it lacks a real challenger to Golden State.

Turning Point

The Lakers were flying high at 20-14 after a Christmas Day victory in Golden State. Unfortunately, the win here was bittersweet, with LeBron suffering a groin injury that kept him out for weeks.

The Lakers struggled mightily in LeBron’s absence, winning just 6 of 17 NBA games and falling out of the playoff places. Even since his return, LA have suffered huge losses at the hands of Indiana, Philadelphia, and even the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Had LeBron not gotten injured, the Lakers are probably hovering around the #5 seed right about now. As things stand, you can currently get them at $1.67 to miss the playoffs.

Punter’s Nightmare

To compound the Lakers on-court struggles, they’ve also been a nightmare for punters to back this season. They’ve won just 25 of their 57 games against the spread, indicative of how overvalued they are in the current market. This could be also partly due to the Anthony Davis trade speculation, which had a number of players uncertain about their future.

Having faced some very high totals this season, the under in Lakers games is 34-22-1 this season. With one of the NBA’s more loyal fan bases behind them, fading both the Lakers and the over could be a solid play the rest of the way.

End of An Era?

LeBron James hasn’t missed the playoffs since his second season in the NBA in 2004-05. Whilst this is arguably the toughest competition he has faced, it’s still surprising to see him in this position.

His legacy would take somewhat of a hit with a playoff miss and there would definitely be big changes in LA this offseason. Should they narrowly clinch the 8th seed, the inevitable sweep against Golden State wouldn’t look great either.

Analysis

At this point, we’ve essentially got the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings all fighting for one NBA playoff spot. The Clippers are currently in the driver’s seat; however, they have a difficult remaining schedule and have weakened after the Tobias Harris trade.

Sacramento also find themselves 2 games ahead of the Lakers at an impressive 30-27. Whilst the Kings have been a fascinating storyline this season, I’m not sure they have what it takes to beat out LeBron.

Starting with Houston on Friday, I expect a motivated and resurgent Lakers team after the All-Star break. They have the most talent of these 3 teams and a relatively easy remaining schedule, which should prove just enough for a playoff berth.

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