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

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Blame Lakers star LeBron James and his questionable management strategies. Blame head coach Luke Walton and his incapability to place his gamers able to constantly win video games. Blame team president Magic Johnson and basic supervisor Rob Pelinka for throwing collectively a bunch of misfit toys and anticipating it to work out.

There’s loads of blame to go round in Los Angeles for what has turn into an unpleasant season, however regardless of the entire drama surrounding the franchise, the 2018-19 marketing campaign would not really feel like such a catastrophe if the Lakers have been nonetheless on the right track to make the playoffs. There’s one large motive why that is not the case — the Lakers stink at beating unhealthy groups.

MORE: Clippers’ Ivica Zubac throws shade at Lakers

Saturday night time’s loss to the Suns was a low level for LA, dropping the workforce to 30-33 total and Four half of video games again of the eighth seed within the Western Convention playoff subject. That disappointing defeat in Phoenix solely continued a season-long pattern, although.

The Lakers have gone 16-14 towards groups beneath .500 on the season. The losses seem like this: Timberwolves (3 times), Grizzlies (twice), Magic (twice), Cavs, Hawks, Knicks, Nets, Pelicans, Suns and Wizards. Among the many West groups combating for a postseason berth, the Lakers simply maintain the worst mark towards sub-.500 opponents.

Playoff seedGroupvs. Under .500
1.Warriors27-4
2.Nuggets23-9
3.Thunder23-10
4.Path Blazers21-9
5.Rockets19-12
6.Jazz18-7
7.Clippers21-10
8.Spurs20-12
Kings20-9
Lakers16-14
Timberwolves18-12

And earlier than anybody begins yelling about LeBron’s harm, sure, clearly that can not be ignored. Nevertheless, solely 4 of the Lakers’ 14 losses towards groups beneath .500 got here throughout the stretch by which James did not play. Los Angeles fell twice to the Timberwolves, as soon as to the Cavs and as soon as to the Knicks with out James out there.

LeBron-led squads have sometimes feasted on lesser challengers relationship again to his four-season runs in Miami and Cleveland. In practically 300 video games towards below-.500 groups over eight years, James completed with a successful proportion of .798.

It is clear LeBron hasn’t been capable of depend on victories towards backside dwellers this time round, particularly now that he finds himself in a a lot deeper convention.

Groupvs. Under .500Win %
Warmth (2010-14)121-27.817
Cavs (2014-18)117-33.780
Lakers (2018-19)16-14.533

The worst half for the Lakers is perhaps realizing how completely different the season would look had they taken care of enterprise in only a few of these video games. For instance, if the losses towards the Cavs, Grizzlies, Hawks, Knicks and Suns — 5 of the worst six groups within the NBA — flipped to wins, LA could be sitting at 36-27, good for the seventh seed forward of the Clippers and simply behind the Jazz.

As a substitute, the Lakers should shut the hole with the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon, and solely six of their last 19 video games coming towards groups with information beneath .500.

FiveThirtyEight’s latest projections give the Lakers an eight % probability of reaching the postseason. Los Angeles wants roughly 44 wins to safe a coveted playoff spot, which means it will must rattle off a 14-5 document to shut the common season.

James has reached the playoffs 13 seasons in a row, so he cannot be dominated out till his workforce is mathematically eradicated. He’ll nonetheless have a shred of hope left if the Lakers can take down the Clippers on Monday night time. However it’s extra seemingly than not he will likely be sitting at residence when the primary spherical begins. 

The LA blame would have landed on the again burner (no less than for a second) if the Lakers had merely checked a couple of extra bins towards unhealthy groups. Los Angeles did not beat ’em, so now it must be part of ’em — on the NBA Draft lottery.

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