The Los Angeles Lakers opened the 2021-22 NBA season as Western Conference favorites. They’ve steadily tumbled down the leaderboard since. They’ve now fallen to seventh, as Caesars Sportsbook is offering +2000 odds on the Lakers reaching the Finals. The Lakers would love to be in seventh place in the standings right now. In actuality, they’ve tumbled all the way to No. 9. Their position there is not even a certainty.
The Lakers (28-36) have just 18 games to turn things around, and with only a bit more than a month left in the regular season, it’s time to take a look at what is realistically possible for the opening night Western Conference favorites by the time the standings lock. Spoiler alert: It’s not looking good.
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Can the Lakers avoid the play-in round?
No. Rarely does it make sense to issue such firm proclamations when it comes to the standings. After all, it took the Brooklyn Nets only 17 days to fall from No. 1 to No. 8 in the Eastern Conference earlier this season. One hot streak can usually change everything. It can’t for the Lakers.
As it stands right now, the Lakers trail the No. 6 seeded Denver Nuggets by 10.5 games. If the Lakers were to win their last 18 games, they’d need the Nuggets to lose at least 10 out of their final 17 games, including both of their remaining head-to-head matchups. That is not happening. The Dallas…