Los Angeles Lakers: Yeah, They’re Making The Playoffs


Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and the Los Angeles Lakers are going to be involved in the postseason. (Photo by Scott Mecum/Flickr.com)

For the past three months, the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff chances have been debated endlessly. After being touted as one of the best teams in the league in the preseason, the Lakers were highly underwhelming for the majority of this season. The nucleus of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol was constantly disrupted by injuries and when they were on the court together, they struggled to achieve any cohesion. Now, however, the Lakers have figured out how to make things work and on Sunday, March 10, they finally broke into the top eight in the Western Conference. And the way things are going, they aren’t going anywhere.

The Lakers are one of the most polarizing teams in the league, so there were a lot of people who took pleasure in their struggles. For those folks, the Lakers missing the postseason would have been the ultimate schadenfreude moment, but it’s just not going to happen. Let’s remember; this was always a ridiculously talented team; the problem was they couldn’t figure out how to play with each other. With that issue largely neutralized, the odds of the Lakers somehow falling short of a playoff bid are slim-to-nil.

That’s not to say this is a perfect team by any means; a big reason why they Lakers got to the eight seed is because they were able to dodge two huge bullets last week. They trailed late in games against the New Orleans Hornets and the Toronto Raptors and in each game, they were essentially bailed out by Bryant’s ridiculous shooting down the stretch. To be sure, a win is a win, but the Lakers shouldn’t have needed to sweat out games against obviously inferior opponents. The team is on the right track, and Kobe can save them in situations like that, but they could have easily lost both games, and still have been on the outside looking in. Clearly, the Lakers haven’t figured everything out just yet.

Still, while they have some clear problems, it won’t be enough to keep them out of the postseason. The competition in the West just isn’t strong enough to stop them. The Utah Jazz have some talented players–particularly with regards to their big men–but they’re too uneven and it’s hard trust a team that gives major minutes to Jamaal Tinsley and Marvin Williams, the latter of whom declined significantly this year.

If the Lakers simply pass the Jazz, that would be enough to put them in the playoffs, but they could set their sights even higher and go after the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. The presence of James Harden makes the Rockets scary, but they’re young, and inconsistent and if the Lakers keep up their hot streak, they could shoot past them pretty quickly. The Warriors are vulnerable as well. Their playoff spot appears to be safe for the moment, but if they continue to falter like they have for the past month or so, the Lakers could climb all the way to sixth by season’s end, which would likely set up an enticing L.A. showdown between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Face it, Laker haters, the jig is up. This team probably won’t win the title, but they are making the postseason. They haven’t figured everything out, but they’re playing as well as they have all yea and they’re finally starting to look like a genuinely imposing team. Maybe they won’t make it past the first round, but they are going to be there, whether anyone else likes it or not.