If you go by the numbers, the Los Angeles Lakers will struggle to make the NBA playoffs in 2012-13. In the end, math can be hard to overcome.
Obviously, the numbers only tell part of the story in sports. That is why fans enjoy watching the games. The phrase “on paper” is just that. Some statistical analysis is not worth the paper on which it is printed.
Heart, drive and momentum can be hard to put on a spreadsheet or program into a computer.
Still, when you look at the record of the Lakers and the competition of the Western Conference, the odds are starting to look a bit bleak.
One such projection is Hollinger’s NBA Playoff Odds (via ESPN), which calculates the chances of a team making the postseason through a computerized model. This model plays out the season 5,000 times and includes such factors as strength of schedule, scoring margin and recent record.
Keep in mind that despite the faith in computers, they are always programmed by people with opinions.
Obviously, these calculations change after every game so it can hard to pin down. As of the writing of this article, the Lakers are calculated as having a 34.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. For those of you scoring at home, that means they have a 65.7 percent chance of not making the playoffs.
That may seem like a glass-is-half-full approach, but in this case the glass is actually only a third full.
Computer models do not measure the heart or drive of someone like Kobe Bryant, but the Lakers still have a steep climb.
Kobe doesn’t believe that the Lakers will miss the playoffs, but what is he going to say?
I asked Kobe Bryant if he's considered Lakers could miss the playoffs? "Nah, I'm way too stubborn."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 12, 2013
Estimates vary, but the Houston Rockets are currently listed as the projected eighth seed in the Western Conference in Hollinger’s rankings. The rankings estimate that Houston will finish with 44 wins. For Los Angeles to get 45 wins, they would need to finish 28-16.
Not a ridiculous number, but it would require some quality wins against a deep conference and some very tough, athletic opponents.
What is the Lakers record against the powers of the Western Conference? Against the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Warriors, Nuggets, Jazz and Rockets, the Lakers are 4-13.
Against the top-four seeds, Los Angeles is 0-7. Not good.
The Lakers are 1-2 against the top-four seeds in the Eastern Conference, and they still must face a number of eastern opponents in the second half of the season.
All of this may sound rather negative, but the numbers paint a particular picture.
Los Angeles is currently only three games behind the Rockets for the eighth seed in the west, but that gap is not going to be closed until the Lakers start beating the better teams in the NBA. The Lakers cannot make the playoffs by beating the Cavaliers and the Bobcats.
Could a healthy Lakers team regroup and become one of the most dangerous eighth seeds in recent memory? Certainly. You can never count out a team that includes Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
Talent and playoff experience is not necessarily the problem.
According to the Los Angeles Times, oddsmakers still believe that the Lakers will make the playoffs.
The last time the Lakers missed the playoffs was the 2004-05 season. Quite a stretch. Prior to that, it was 1993-94. Before that, it was 1975-76. Not a bad run. Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers have had it pretty good.
Is Lakers Nation ready to miss the playoffs this season? They might want to prepare.
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