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What are the odds the Lakers catch the Jazz, make playoffs?

Feb 26, 2013, 3:51 PM EST

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Maybe Kobe Bryant had reason to be confident. Entering play Tuesday night the Lakers are the nine seed in the West, 3 games back of 8 seed Houston and 3.5 back of the 7 seed Jazz. Lakers fans look at those numbers and think, “we can make that up.”

But it’s not going to be that easy.

The Rockets have won 6 of their last 10 (same as the Lakers, who have won 11 of their last 15) and are on pace to win 45 games. Same with the Jazz — a team that did not trade Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson at the deadline and is not a team that is going to fall off the cliff and come back to the Lakers (they have won 13 of their last 20). Los Angeles is going to have to earn it — they would need to go 17-7 the rest of the way to get to 45 wins.

But that is crude math.

Over at the invaluable Basketball-Reference they use a probability model that takes into account strength of schedule by playing out the remainder of the season 1,000 times. And still things don’t look all that good for the Lakers.

The Rockets have the easiest schedule in the NBA the rest of the way and so B-R says they should go 15-9 the rest of the way, or finish with 46 wins. That gives them a 96.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The Jazz have a tougher schedule the rest of the way and they are more likely the team the Lakers should target. Still, the Jazz are a solid team that B-R has going 12-13 the rest of the way, or finishing with 43 wins.

So the Lakers would have to go 16-8 the rest of the way — win two thirds of their games — to best that mark. Can they? They have the fifth easiest schedule here on out.

Anything is possible but B-R says they would only make the playoffs 27.2 percent of the time In fact, it has them finishing at .500 — 41-41. A couple games short.

There are other models out there. As Ben Golliver noted at Sports Illustrated. ESPN’s projections (using now Memphis front office guy John Hollinger’s model) give the Lakers a 33.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. That’s one in three.

It’s this simple — the Lakers have gone 11-5 in their last 16 and they are going to have to maintain close to that pace the rest of the way — with half their games against likely playoff teams and half on the road — to squeeze past the Jazz or Rockets.

It’s certainly not impossible. But I also wouldn’t go bet the rent money on it.

If I were a Jazz fan I wouldn’t breathe easy, but it is better to be the guy in front being chased than the team desperate to make up ground.

  1. BigBeachBall - Feb 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Those odds don’t take into account Antwan Jamison’s terrible offensive skills… so it’s actually around 20% to make the playoffs…

    • dannymac17 - Feb 26, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Actually, considering I don’t like the Lakers, Antwan has been a bright spot for the Lakers. He what? Knocked down 3 out 3 from 3 point land just last night?

      • BigBeachBall - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        all open three’s… otherwise he throws up more ‘prayers’ than the pope…

      • dannymac17 - Feb 27, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        Did you want him to hit every 3 with 2 guys in his face?

        What are you babbling about.

    • psung26 - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:26 PM

      Pretty sure the odds do take Jamison into account, he is on the team right?

      • kavika6 - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:31 AM

        Jamison’s the only veteran on that team I can stomach. Too bad he’s not playing for a contender.

  2. kanemoney - Feb 26, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    NEWS – the Lakers might scrape into the playoffs and claim a matchup against the Spurs, resulting in a first round exit.

    That’s best case. Worse call – no playoffs at all.

    Seriously I am a die hard Lakers fan, but this is too much.

  3. dls612 - Feb 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    What are the odds betting On Kurt hoping the Lakers miss the playoffs! Lol!

    • badintent - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      What are the odds a metorite hits earth and kills a bunch of ballers ? Same as the Lakers making the playoffs,………….. No, Russian ice hockey players don’t count.

  4. HotHotHeat - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    What are the odds Howard resigns if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs?

    • skinsfanwill - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      What are the odds he re-signs if the Lakers make the playoffs and get swept by whatever team they play in the first round?

  5. hammycheeseer - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Kurt, your blog has been filled with laker content the past few days (more like everyday), yet you haven’t acknowledged the ONE-SIDED and BIASED refereeing in favor of the lakers the past three games. Blazers and Mavericks were both cheated out of their wins and Denver was almost cost the game.

    If you watch any of their games (which I doubt you do) then it should be obvious to you the blatant one sided calls, announcers pointing out how bad calls were, and the crowd going insane.

    Dirk and OJ mayo got completely crap technicals fouls against them when game was on the line. Worldpeace was holding Dirk the whole 4th quarter.

    George Karl had to be held back by his own assistant coaches despite being up by 10 points because the refs were keeping the lakers in the game. Dwight shoved two nugget players on one play (both of them technical worthy) yet no call and instead the technical foul that kobe got for chasing down the referee was rescinded, yet Dirks and OJ mayo’s was not.

    And then Blazers were screwed as well since nash was able to push off all game with his left hand.

    I know that you don’t have much integrity, but if you are gonna write so much about the lakers, it is only inferable that you watch their games, and may realize that it may be wise to write an article about why fans of the 3 teams that lakers played were so mad.

    But Im pretty sure like a loyal dog, you wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 26, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      I always remember what my HS coach told us when we thought a ref robbed us of a win at the end of a game: “If you hadn’t played like s*** in the third quarter the ref wouldn’t have had the chance to decide the game.” The fact is refs almost never win and lose games, it’s the players (the teams that get the calls tend to be the teams that attack the rim). The Lakers have won because they’ve played better. That simple.

      And I watched all of the Denver game and much of the Dallas one.

      • kavika6 - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:48 AM

        Lay off Kurt a little. I hate the Lakers as much as anybody but I have to admit they get the most comments. That said, there does seem to be a desire from league officials to get their biggest money-making team into the playoffs.

        I wish though that there were as many articles about the Spurs and other teams. Unfortunately the only apparent newsworthy information about the Spurs (besides winning 17 of 19) seems to be which burger joint they visited. No contraversy = no news.

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      When did the refereeing almost cost Denver the game? They ran the Lakers out of the building.

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

        Maybe it was when they called a technical against Kobe that was later rescinded by the league? idk.

  6. censormynameandmycomments - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    What are the odds? 100%. No way the NBA lets the Lakers miss the playoffs. Too much money involved for them not to get in. I bet the Lakers get fouls 3:1 in the 4th for the rest of the season. Last 3 games they got 6-2, 12-1, and 8-3 FT advantage in the 4th.

    • manchestermiracle - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      What are the odds PBT takes your advice regarding your screen name? Anything under 100% isn’t good enough. How many of those 4th-quarter fouls were Hack-a-Howard intentionals? Bet you have your own conspiracy theory newsletter…

      • diehardcard - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        Dwight has 12 4th quarter FT attempts in the last 3 games. Take those out and the Lakers still have a 14-6 FT advantage. If you think Donaghy was the only one fixing games you’re crazy.

      • censormynameandmycomments - Feb 26, 2013 at 6:12 PM

        Well, that was mean-spirited.

      • manchestermiracle - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:54 AM

        I watch a lot of Laker games (difficult to do this year) and claiming the refs are somehow helping them win the few games they’ve won deserved a snarky response to your stupid conspiracy theory.

      • manchestermiracle - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:05 AM

        diehard: Really? Eight more free throws over three games? That ain’t even three per game. The way the Lakers have played defense don’t you think that if the fix was in the refs would give them a whole lot more?

        When your offense has to use most of the shot clock to get a decent look there are a whole lot more chances for the defense to commit a foul. When you turn the ball over as much as the Lakers have, the other side gets a lot of transition baskets. The result is the Lakers have a few more FTs per game. And yet they haven’t taken advantage because their team FT percentage stinks (under 70%). For a conspiracy theory in the Lakers’ favor, that’s thinner than an 80-year-old’s skin.

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      Yes, the Lakers have never missed the playoffs before.

  7. chargerdillon - Feb 26, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Does anybody realize we’re talking about a team struggling to make it to the 8th seed….as a diehard laker fan who’s already betting against his team to make the playoffs, they will be lucky to win 10 more games this season, and that’s being fair to who they play

    You can look at their remaining schedule and immediately strike off almost 10 games that will be losses and here they are…

    Loses: Thunder, Bulls, Pacers, Hawks (at least 1 loss if not 2), Warriors (1 loss if not 2), Clippers, Spurs, Rockets

    Also keep in mind they play a lot of beatable teams that they’ve split with all year long, to think they’re just going to roll over the Kings or the Suns coming down the stretch simply because they need it more is not logical. These loser teams are playing their NBA championship best to keep the Lakers from making the playoffs, a win on their seasons is helping to make sure the old guard of the Lakers dont make it.

    The Lakers record is who they are, and why would anybody want to watch this team get crushed by good basketball teams who’ve shown they can be good basketball teams all year long.

    Face it Lakers fans, this isn’t our year, nor our decade. We are in the King James era, and im perfectly fine with that.

  8. davidly - Feb 26, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Sure, as long as the Lakers have more assists than Bryant does shot attempts. So far when that is the case, they are 21-10.

    And this isn’t knocking KB, he actually shot well in a lot of the games where he took more shots than the team had assists, but it just doesn’t translate to a winning percentage.

  9. aaronp2098 - Feb 26, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    They are also missing their 1st round pick in the upcoming draft…

  10. mazblast - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:33 AM

    If The Troll tells his flunkies to get the Lakers into the playoffs, it’ll happen. He doesn’t get his hands dirty anymore, but he makes his wishes clear enough.

    • kavika6 - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:56 AM

      Sounds a lot like Hitler.

  11. omniusprime - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    The worst thing that could happen to the Lakers is to make the playoffs, thus extending the misery of having Dumbtoni as the coach. The best thing for the Lakers is to lose every game until Dumbtoni is fired, the sooner the better. It’s sad that as a longtime fan of the Lakers I now root for them to lose but I only want to see the worst excuse of a Laker coach ever get fired in total disgrace.

    I’m also hoping that losing will finally force Kupcake to trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake to get a great young point guard like Kyrie Irving. Point guard has been a sore spot for years because the Lakers have had PG’s that are too old to play defense against the young ones.

    That’s why I’m hoping the Lakers lose and don’t make the playoffs, I’m hoping for a better future next year with a new coach and point guard.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!!

  12. golfrangeman - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Even if they somehow make the playoffs they have 1 win against the top 4 teams in the west. They have virtually no chance of getting out of the first round.

  13. mogogo1 - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    They didn’t assemble this cast to be the eighth seed. The only difference making the playoffs would have is it would move the arrow from “historically bad season” to “hugely disappointing.”

    Healthy, playing like an actual team, they’d be much better than they have shown this season. But playing this style, they are never going to be real threat to a contender. They’re simply too old, too slow, with a coach trying too hard to make the square pegs fit the round holes of his offense.

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