It was a rough first half of the season for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. They struggled with injuries and roster issues, and limped out of the gate to a 2-10 record. Things didn’t get much better in December, as they closed out 2022 standing six games under .500 at 15-21.
Anthony Davis has been in and out of the lineup throughout the year, and the Russell Westbrook experiment was clearly not working in the Lakers’ favor. While they were unable to land the big fish on the trade market like Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, they made some moves of their own that may be able to change the fortunes of the team for the last 25+ games of the season.
Can The Los Angeles Lakers Make A Run In The Western Conference?
It has seemed to work out so far, despite the small sample size. Since the February 9th trade deadline, Los Angeles is 4-1, including two wins over the Golden State Warriors, who they’re chasing in the Western Conference standings. The most impressive performance, though, came on Sunday in Dallas, as the Lakers erased a 27-point deficit against Luka Dončić and company, capping off the biggest comeback in the NBA so far this season.
The win helped the Lakers keep pace with the two other teams that are on the outside looking into the playoffs, and they are tied with the Thunder and Blazers with a .475 winning percentage. They are now one game behind the Pelicans, who are currently the 10th seed, the final spot for the play-in tournament.
So what do the Lakers have to do to make it into play-in? And do they have any shot at the 6th seed to solidify their playoff spot? In a typical year, an 11th seed at the end of April would struggle to work their way back up the standings. But both the Western and Eastern Conferences are such tight battles, that a five-game winning streak by any team can turn the standings upside down.
Who Are The Teams That They’ll Battle With For Position?
As it stands today, the Lakers at 29-32 are just 1.5 games back of the three teams that are tied for the 7th, 8th, and 9th seeds, and 2.5 games behind the Mavericks for the idol 6th seed. While they may have trouble catching the Mavericks or Clippers, there is a good chance that they outplay the likes of the Timberwolves, Jazz, and Pelicans down the stretch, and the Warriors haven’t shown their usual firepower all season long.
They have a seriously favorable schedule in March when it comes to travel. Starting on March 3rd, the Lakers will play 10 of 12 games in Los Angeles, putting a small two-day road trip in between a longer-than-three-week homestay. During this stretch, they’ll have games against teams that they’ll be battling with for position, including the Mavericks, Pelicans, Suns, and Warriors.
Their fate will certainly be in their own hands as they try to climb the ladder, and it may be one of the final chances for LeBron James to show his dominance at his progressing age.