LeBron James, Lakers have one inexcusable reason for falling out of playoff picture

Blame Lakers star LeBron James and his questionable administration methods. Blame head coach Luke Walton and his lack of skill to position his avid gamers able to continually win video video games. Blame workers president Magic Johnson and fundamental supervisor Rob Pelinka for throwing collectively a bunch of misfit toys and anticipating it to work out.

There is a lot of blame to go spherical in Los Angeles for what has turn into an disagreeable season, nonetheless regardless of all of the drama surrounding the franchise, the 2018-19 advertising and marketing marketing campaign would not likely really feel like such a disaster if the Lakers had been nonetheless on observe to make the playoffs. There is one large reason why that isn’t the case — the Lakers stink at beating unhealthy teams.

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Saturday night’s loss to the Suns was a low degree for LA, dropping the workers to 30-33 complete and 4 1/2 video video games once more of the eighth seed inside the Western Conference playoff self-discipline. That disappointing defeat in Phoenix solely continued a season-long sample, though. (UPDATE: The Lakers are literally 30-34 after falling to the Clippers on Monday night.)

The Lakers have gone 16-14 in direction of teams beneath .500 on the season. The losses seem to be this: Timberwolves (3 instances), Grizzlies (twice), Magic (twice), Cavs, Hawks, Knicks, Nets, Pelicans, Suns and Wizards. Among the West teams combating for a postseason berth, the Lakers merely preserve the worst mark in direction of sub-.500 opponents.

Playoff seedTeamvs. Below .500
4.Trail Blazers21-9

(All knowledge current as of March 4)

And sooner than anyone begins yelling about LeBron’s hurt, certain, clearly that may’t be ignored. However, solely 4 of the Lakers’ 14 losses in direction of teams underneath .500 received right here all through the stretch by which James didn’t play. Los Angeles fell twice to the Timberwolves, as quickly as to the Cavs and as quickly as to the Knicks with out James accessible.

LeBron-led squads have normally feasted on lesser challengers relationship once more to his four-season runs in Miami and Cleveland. In nearly 300 video video games in direction of below-.500 teams over eight years, James accomplished with a worthwhile share of .798.

It’s clear LeBron hasn’t been succesful of rely upon victories in direction of bottom dwellers this time spherical, significantly now that he finds himself in a lots deeper conference.

Teamvs. Below .500Win %
Heat (2010-14)121-27.817
Cavs (2014-18)117-33.780
Lakers (2018-19)16-14.533

The worst half for the Lakers is maybe understanding how completely completely different the season would look had they taken care of enterprise in just a few of these video video games. For occasion, if the losses in direction of the Cavs, Grizzlies, Hawks, Knicks and Suns — 5 of the worst six teams inside the NBA — flipped to wins, LA might be sitting at 36-27, good for the seventh seed ahead of the Clippers and easily behind the Jazz.

Instead, the Lakers ought to shut the opening with the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, consistent with Tankathon, and solely six of their final 19 video video games coming in direction of teams with knowledge beneath .500.

FiveThirtyEight’s latest projections give the Lakers an eight % chance of reaching the postseason. Los Angeles needs roughly 44 wins to protected a coveted playoff spot, which suggests it’d should rattle off a 14-5 report back to shut the frequent season.

James has reached the playoffs 13 seasons in a row, so he can’t be dominated out until his workers is mathematically eradicated. But it’s additional seemingly than not he shall be sitting at residence when the first spherical begins.

The LA blame would have landed on the once more burner (a minimum of for a second) if the Lakers had merely checked a pair of additional containers in direction of unhealthy teams. Los Angeles didn’t beat ’em, so now it could actually have to affix ’em — on the NBA Draft lottery.

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