Before Wednesday’s game, the Lakers were 15-19 and four games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The last five teams to make the postseason as an eighth seed in the Western Conference had a combined win percentage of .584 (230-164), which in an 82-game season is about 48 wins. To reach that 48-win mark, the Lakers would have to finish the season 33-15.
What are the chances the Lakers finish 33-15 and make the playoffs? The data and smart simulation say: Slightly less than 50-50.
Recent Lakers finishes show it’s dicey getting to 33-15. Only once in the past three seasons did the Lakers finish that strong.
Lakers' Prior Three Seasons W-L Record In Final 48 Games
The remaining schedule is daunting. The Lakers have the seventh-toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. Their remaining opponents have a combined win percentage of .513.
Toughest Remaining Schedules This Season
Trail Blazers .539
The Lakers have 18 games left against teams in the top five in their conference. Even if they go 9-9 in those, they would still need to go 24-6 in their other 30 games to go 48-34.
AccuScore simulation with current rosters isn’t promising
According to AccuScore, the Lakers have a 48.3 percent chance of making the postseason, finishing with an average of 42.5 wins after 10,000 simulations. The last Western Conference team to make the postseason with 42 wins (or .512 win percentage) or fewer in an 82-game season was Minnesota (42-40) in the 2006-07 season. The Lakers also finished that season 42-40 as the seventh seed in the West.
Road play (specifically the defense) must improve to reach 33-15
If the Lakers have any chance of making the postseason, they will have to play better away from Staples Center in their remaining 25 road games. The Lakers are 5-11 (.313 win percentage) on the road this season. The last time they made the postseason with a win percentage of .313 or lower on the road was during the 2004-05 season (12-29, .293). The last team to make the postseason with a win percentage of .313 or lower was the 2007-08 Atlanta Hawks (12-29, .293).
Notable Remaining Road Opponents For Lakers This Season
Jan. 9: Spurs
Jan. 21: Bulls
Jan. 23: Grizzlies
Feb. 7: Celtics
Feb. 10: Heat
Apr. 7: Clippers
The Lakers' main issue on the road has been their defense. They are allowing an NBA-high 106.9 points per game in road games.
Most PPG Allowed, Road Games This Season
Lakers Road Games This Season
Opp PPG 106.9 (Last in NBA)
Opp FG pct 46.8 (24th)
Opp 3pt FG pct 40.1 (28th)