Can the Los Angeles Lakers Still Make the Playoffs?
This season has not been the very best for the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, it has been atrocious from the beginning of pre-season. There were high hopes coming into the season for the Lakers, after they acquired both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard during the off-season. We all know how that has been doing. They were the heavy favorites to come as the Western Conference champions, but it could be quite a long shot now.
Injuries have plagued this team, beginning with Steve Nash’s injury, early in the season, which possibly led to the horrendous play by the Lakers. Jordan Hill, the hustling big man, is out for the season with a hip injury. Following him was Pau Gasol, who suffered a foot injury, and is not expected to return until mid-March. A big 50-50 is Dwight Howard. His back conditions are unknown and he has suffered some shoulder injuries, as well. Though Laker fans have not been to keen with the Lakers’ play this season, injuries have been a large factor in the disappointment.
The Lakers have struggled to reach the .500 mark all season. Many times, they have caught fire and went on win streaks, which led fans hoping the team would be in playoff race, but other times, they have went on losing streaks, thus making the Lakers race to reach the playoffs.
A few days ago, Kobe Bryant was quoted saying, “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will,” as he told Sports Illustrated. “And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.” Would you call Kobe Bryant crazy? I would not and I’m sure Lakers fans and basketball fans alike, would not question his statement either.
Since the All-Star break, the Lakers have played two games. They defeated the short-handed Boston Celtics on Wednesday night by double-digits, 113-99. The Trailblazers also suffered a loss to the Lakers on Friday, behind Kobe Bryant’s 40-point effort. The Lakers sit at the ninth place in the Western Conference, just behind the Houston Rockets, which suffered a loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. The Lakers are now just three games behind.
Kobe’s statement is intriguing. If the Lakers do make the playoffs, they might just be good enough to reach the seventh or eighth seed, seeing how the competition in the West is so tight. However, he said the Lakers, as a team will not fear anybody. The only reason I agree is because, if they do make the playoffs, that will only mean they have caught fire and are ready to play as a team. See, the Lakers will need at least 18-20 more wins. By that time, the whole team would have put together enough chemistry to spark some heat into their play. The teams who come into the playoffs hot, are usually the teams that win it all, by the time June comes along.
Though it may be tough for the Lakers, as they have to hope for despair for Golden State, Utah, and Houston, the talent the Lakers have is still enough for a title run. It will all have to come from the effort each and every player on that team wants to give. We all know Kobe will do his thing. Steve Nash is always giving his effort, and recently, he has been playing defense. Metta World Peace has been very consistent on defense and he has improved on the offensive end as well. Pau Gasol will come back, giving the Lakers some fresh legs off the bench. Despite Jordan Hill’s injury, Earl Clark has been the hustle man on the court. The only question is, can Dwight Howard perform to the best of his abilities?
This season will give us the answer we are all yearning for. Will Dwight Howard resign with the Lakers? His fate with this team is all in his hands. His effort will lead the Lakers to the playoffs, and maybe even a championship. The last half of the season will be very interesting, not just for Lakers fans, but for NBA fans around the world. We will just have to wait and see what Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and the rest of the Lakers do.