12 games to go. LA are in 8th, 2 games ahead of Utah and Dallas in 9th/10th. 3 games behind Houston for 7th. The smoke's beginning to clear away now, and it looks like predictions of the Lakers making the playoffs will be on the mark. Hell… it's not like picking contenders for the Kentucky Derby – it's a pretty good bet now that the Lakers will make it.
Still, the road home's not easy. Difficult games litter the last 12. Hosting Memphis, Dallas the Dubs and Houston… and trips to GSW (today), LAC (har-har), San Antonio and Portland. That's 8 out of 12 difficult games, and no games on the schedule could be counted as "gimmes". However, Utah have a tough stretch home too, and of late they've been playing truly abysmal basketball. Dallas too have a hard road home. 7 of their games remaining are against playoff-bound teams, and only 2 games are relatively soft. Portland? Well… mathematically they're still in it. But with 9 games vs very tough playoff-bound opponents, and the only non-playoff teams they face are Dallas and Utah – two teams who will be most eager to do battle. Fuhgeddabowdit.
I don't think that the Lakers can catch Houston. Nor do I think they should want to should the standings up top remain the same. Redolent of a few years ago (Memphis vs San Antonio), #1 San Antonio are a much better option for LA than Oklahoma. Granted, a lot will have to go right for LA to have a chance against either… but I fancy the chances vs the Spurs far more than I do vs OKC. Simply a better match-up for the Lakers than the fast-paced Thunder.
Not a done thing yet… but given the way this season began, I'm happy where the Lakers find themselves now. Cannot believe that too… happy for the team just to make the playoffs? I guess this is what a Houston Rockets fan feels like!