NBA: 3 predictions heading into the push for the playoffs

NBA Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant James Harden (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant James Harden (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Los Angeles Lakers (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

NBA predictions for the playoff push: The Los Angeles Lakers will be OK

To put it lightly, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled in the absence of big man Anthony Davis. Davis himself has struggled this season, averaging only 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, but the nine-year veteran just finished the first championship playoff run of his career a mere two-and-a-half months before the start of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Since losing Davis to injury against the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 14, the Lakers have gone 5-7. With LeBron being 36 years old, he simply doesn’t have the impact on a play-by-play, night-by-night basis to carry a team to the promised land. And that’s okay. That’s the point of team sports. But in his absolute prime, LeBron would’ve won 60-plus games with this squad, and now that’s not a possibility.

Before that Nuggets game, the Lakers were 22-7 and the seemingly prohibited favorites to repeat as NBA champions. With Davis out, new additions such as Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder have been given time to gel with LeBron.

Although Davis has missed significant time this season, the Lakers are still first in defensive rating, but 17th in offensive rating. Of course, adding 23 points per game into your lineup will help with the offensive side of the game, but Davis is a two-way star and a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Once he is back healthy, the Lakers, regardless of their final standing come playoff time will be OK. This is the same core unit that won the championship last season and then added major talent to help ease the load of the regulars season.

We’ll be talking about the Lakers in June, but we’ll also be talking about this next team too.