December 25th. The Lakers go into Oracle and destroy the Warriors, 127-101. LeBron went down with a groin damage within the third quarter, but the Lakers didn’t collapse. Six different gamers scored in double figures, and for an evening, all was proper in Los Angeles.
The Lakers have been again! Fourth within the West! At 20-14, they have been hurtling towards a Prime Four seed within the West, and absolutely a date with the Warriors within the Western Convention Finals.
Two months later, the Lakers have been combating for his or her playoff lives. These playoff goals have been dashed Saturday evening within the desert towards the worst staff within the NBA.
You’ll be able to play the blame sport all you need – Magic Johnson for the roster he constructed (but no one complained once they have been 20-14, 4th within the West); the Anthony Davis drama (uh, any GM in that spot would have chased a Prime 6 participant); Luke Walton (nicely, LeBron has missed 18 video games, Rajon Rondo has missed 32, Lonzo Ball 16, Brandon Ingram 9), and sure, LeBron deserves his share of blame (regardless of averaging 27-Eight-7, his PER is only a shade beneath of the place he was final yr, as are his taking pictures percentages) – however the actuality is that we’ll by no means know what would have occurred if LeBron didn’t get damage.
Numerous people will attempt to do a victory lap about LeBron attending to the playoffs in LA, but when he doesn’t go down for the longest stretch of his profession, do they actually fall to 10th within the West? Anyone who says they might is mendacity. On the off probability somebody does, remind them LeBron has taken worse groups to the Finals – together with final yr’s Cavs.
Sure, it was within the East, however he needed to get by Indiana in Recreation 7, he swept the 59-win Raptors, after which beat the Celtics in Recreation 7 on the street with out Kevin Love.
All that being stated, given how they’ve performed of late towards good groups, it’s completely attainable that on this Three-game house stand this week, the Lakers beat the Clippers, Nuggets, and Celtics (LA did beat every of these groups of their final assembly), and get everybody excited as soon as once more.
However the actuality is, they’d must most likely go 15-Four the remainder of the way in which to get into the playoffs, and have the Spurs/Clippers/Kings play beneath .500 ball. It feels insurmountable.
I can’t see the Lakers tanking, although it sounds humorous to say out loud. There’s at all times the prospect LeBron suffers a non-serious “damage” and he takes a number of video games off, the Lakers get blasted, and he shuts it down.
For any Lakers followers giddy about the opportunity of a excessive draft decide based mostly on new lottery guidelines, a fast phrase: A) LeBron doesn’t play with rookies, so it’d be a commerce chip; B) They’d must get all the way in which to 10th worst file to have a 13% probability of touchdown within the Prime Four.
Everybody rooting towards LeBron can chortle now, however they’ll be crying throughout two months of NBA playoffs with out one of many league’s marquee attracts for the final 10+ years. Followers, TV executives, and NBA executives all lose.