Before the Los Angeles Lakers’ 104-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni had some interesting words about his team’s playoff chances.
When asked if he thought the Lakers could still make the playoffs, D’Antoni said what we’re all thinking. Apparently.
“Yeah, we can do that,” D’Antoni said before the Lakers played the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. “Yes.”
The Lakers are 13-13 and are technically in the 10th spot. Even though they are only two games — in the loss column — out of the 8th spot, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to secure that spot. But how do you plan on doing that D’Antoni?
“I don’t want to be too simple, but you got to win games,” D’Antoni said. “We just got to play. We got to get our point guards back, get Kobe back in a month or whatever and then go from there. Hopefully we’ll get some luck. We’re on the other side of the coin right now. We got to be a little lucky and we got to start treading a little bit above .500 for a while, and if we can do that, then we may get some cavalry later on.”
But D’Antoni is right. It’s not as simple as saying they need to win games. Obviously, yes. But the competition out West is unreal. The real answer that D’Antoni was probably thinking was “we need to figure out a way to get traded to the East”. That’s the ideal way for a struggling Western Conference team to make the playoffs.
However, D’Antoni described it another way. Because he wants to be politically correct, and all that.
“It’s difficult every year,” D’Antoni said of the Western Conference. “The last two, three years, you win two more [games], you lose two more, you’re either 12th place or fifth place. That’s just the way the West is. It’s been that way for a number of years. There’s some really good teams, and you have to win the games that you’re favored, for sure, and you can’t kick any away.”
Last season, the Lakers finished in 7th and got swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Also, that was with a “healthy” Kobe Bryant, up until the last few games, and a “healthy” Dwight Howard. Now they have a “non healthy” Kobe Bryant, a Swaggy P and a disgruntled Pau Gasol.
The Lakers finished with 45 wins last season. That’s probably around the amount they’ll need to win this season, to be even in consideration for the final spot, much less a higher seed.
Lastly, I complied a few thoughts about the Lakers in general:
1. I don’t blame D’Antoni for saying that he still thinks the Lakers still have a shot at making the playoffs. What would you expect the coach of the Lakers to say? In fact, I honestly think they have a better chance at making the playoffs without Kobe than they do with Kobe. They have a lot to do in six weeks. Ya know, before Kobe comes back.
2. They’re only two games out of that 8th seed. They’ve shown already this season that they play better without Kobe (record-wise). I know it was a small sample size, but the Lakers were 2-4 in games Kobe played this season. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for them to make the playoffs. (Take this statement with a grain of salt. I picked the Lakers to make the Finals last year.)