Los Angeles Lakers: The worst possible playoff path is now likely

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

Second round: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets

  • Rockets’ current place in the standings: 4th (1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets, 0.5 games ahead of Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Orlando bubble record: 3-1
  • Remaining opponents: Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers

The Houston Rockets are currently tied for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Utah Jazz and are 1.5 games back of third place and 0.5 games ahead of sixth place. Now, it might seem like a lot of movement is possible, and it certainly is, but the Rockets are not going anywhere.

The Rockets have a relatively easy remaining schedule, especially after the juggernauts they have already played, and at the very least will go 2-2. It is really likely that the Rockets go 3-1, putting them at either fourth or fifth.

This is important because it puts them on track for a second-round matchup with the Lakers and I do think their small-ball lineup and star power with James Harden and Russell Westbrook will get them past the first round.

This is not the second-round matchup the Lakers want to see. The Utah Jazz are a much easier matchup for the Lakers. The Rockets are an absolute headache to play and again, will stretch the Lakers thin.

I get that the team was without LeBron James on Thursday but the team’s perimeter defense was still not promising and the Rockets made them pay. Houston made 21 of 57 threes in this game, the Lakers made 2-19.

Of course, there is the hope that the Lakers’ shooting turns around, but it has been abysmal thus far and we really have no reason to believe that it will turn around without any changes. This is a team that absolutely can kill the Lakers with threes and I do not think this team can keep up with Houston’s three-point barrage.

This is a seven-game playoff series waiting to happen. And if the Lakers get past the Rockets then they will finally have their highly anticipated matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.

And at that point, the hope is that the Lakers will be playing much better basketball after two-hard fought series against a really good eighth and fourth/fifth seed. However, it could also run them thin, expose their holes and keep the team from making the NBA Finals.

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I know these games do not really matter and the team has time to turnaround. The time is not unlimited, and very soon, they will matter. The way the Los Angeles Lakers are playing, I don’t know if they can beat the Blazers, Rockets and Clippers in back-to-back-to-back series.