Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Tyson Chandler, better than ever, thinking legacy

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:49 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Will center stick with Mavericks this time?

  2. Mike Dunleavy is smooooth

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:11 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Sliding into your DMs like…

  3. DeMarcus Cousins wins.

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:33 AM EST

    Kings center waits five years, burns Clay Travis for tweet

  4. Kobe Bryant on if he returns next season: “Yeah, that’s the plan”

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:34 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Did anyone think he would get injured and say, “nah, I don’t want to fight through this” and walk away?

  5. Report: Magic close to firing Jacque Vaughn

    Jan 30, 2015, 8:37 AM EST

    Orlando Magic v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Already facing scrutiny, Vaughn oversaw 15-point loss to Bucks last night

  6. One day after having surgery, Kobe Bryant came to see Pau Gasol

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 AM EST

    BKN-NBA-BULLS-LAKERS Getty Images

    “I really appreciate him coming, I didn’t expect it at all.” —Pau Gasol

  7. Report: Magic haven’t ruled out firing Jacque Vaughn in-season

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:45 PM EST

    Jacque Vaughn Jacque Vaughn

    Management is displeased with their underperformance.

  8. Lakers pass out “Thanks Pau” shirts, have video tribute for return of Gasol

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:02 PM EST

    Pau shirt front

    “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

  9. Report: NBA passes rule raising the bar for team ownership

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    2015 Throne Boxing 2015 Throne Boxing

    The new rule is an attempt to curtail Jay Z-style figurehead owners.

  10. The three biggest All-Star snubs in each conference

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    DeMarcus Cousins DeMarcus Cousins

    Damian Lillard, Kyle Korver, DeMarcus Cousins and more.

  11. James Harden, three Hawks players lead list of NBA All-Star Game reserves

    Jan 29, 2015, 7:27 PM EST

    Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Lillard were left off in the West.

  12. Timberwolves troll Kevin Love in advance of his Saturday return with Cavaliers (VIDEO)

    Jan 29, 2015, 6:42 PM EST

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    A promotional video hyping the matchup features plenty of players, but Kevin Love is noticeably absent.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (7715)
  2. D. Howard (7233)
  3. R. Rubio (6857)
  4. K. Bryant (6787)
  5. K. Walker (6454)
  1. K. Martin (6280)
  2. H. Whiteside (6276)
  3. N. Batum (6096)
  4. K. Durant (6059)
  5. T. Jones (5873)