A week ago, the Lakers were in danger of missing the playoffs. Then Kobe went down with an Achilles injury, and their postseason prospects looked extremely bleak.
Now, thanks to a Houston loss to lowly Phoenix, the Lakers could actually sneak into the 7th spot in the playoffs, and avoid the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder, who locked up the top seed in the West.
But LA’s position is so tenuous at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff jumble, it also can miss the postseason. Here’s how that scenario works: Wednesday, the Rockets beat the Lakers and the Jazz beat the Grizzlies. Utah has a tiebreaker over the Lakers.
The Lakers would get broomed by the Thunder, but they’d probably have a decent chance to steal a couple games against the 2nd-seeded San Antonio Spurs. (If the Rockets got the 7th seed, it wouldn’t shock me if they eliminated the Spurs.) The old, ailing Spurs are sputtering to the finish, having lost six of nine. They just parted ways with Stephen Jackson, who was only a reserve, but if you remember last year’s postseason, a pivotal one defensively at times against Durant and also shooting. Manu Ginobili hasn’t played in two weeks, and Tony Parker has played sparingly over the last eight weeks.
I called San Antonio’s run the “End of an Era” last June, and I’ve seen nothing this season to change my mind, despite the 58 wins.