Lakers Playoff Odds: Los Angeles Looking Unlikely to Make 2022 Playoffs

Lebron James Lakers Playoffs The Odds

At the beginning of the 2021-22 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets were the only team in the league with more favorable NBA championship odds than the Los Angeles Lakers. On the heels of an incredibly busy summer, the Lakers appeared primed to compete for a championship less than two years after winning it all in the Disney World bubble.

Unfortunately:
The season hasn’t gone according to plan in Laker Land. With just a handful of games left in the campaign, the Lakers are clinging desperately to the 10th seed and final play-in spot in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs’ loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday vaulted the Lakers back into a play-in spot, for now. However, LA is at risk of falling back out with a loss in Utah on Thursday night.

NBA betting sites have kept tabs on the playoff race all season long. The Lakers missing the postseason entirely was a laughable notion as recently as October, but it’s suddenly a very real possibility. In fact, the Lakers’ playoffs odds at BetOnline are actually plus-money, as of this writing.

Will the Lakers defy the odds and qualify for postseason play?

Lakers Playoffs 2021

The 2020-21 playoffs didn’t go the way the Lakers, expected either. Los Angeles entered the playoffs with hopes of repeating as world champions, but those dreams were quickly dashed.

As a result of late-season injuries to both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers had to settle for a spot in the play-in tournament last year, too. Los Angeles finished last season at 42-30, which was good for just the No. 7 spot in the West.

Fortunately, James was healthy enough to carry the Lakers to a victory over the Warriors in the 8-vs.-9 play-in matchup.

The Lakers looked like a real threat as a lower seed entering the real playoffs, though they faced a daunting matchup with the second-seeded Suns in the first round. Phoenix lacked playoff experience, but Monty Williams’ side was one of the most-improved teams in basketball after the addition of Chris Paul.

The Suns finished last season at 51-21 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. LA actually took an early 2-1 series lead over Phoenix thanks to a couple of outstanding offensive games from Anthony Davis.

However, Davis injured his groin in the Lakers’ loss in Game 4, which would ultimately sideline him for most of the rest of the series. The Suns would go on to sweep the final three games, ending the Lakers’ playoff dreams earlier than many expected.

Will the Lakers Make the Play-In Tournament?

Yes:
+155
No:
-190

As you can see, the Lakers’ playoff odds aren’t looking too favorable these days. LA’s blowout loss in Dallas on Tuesday dropped LA to just 31-44 on the year, a season-low 13 games south of the .500 mark. The fact that the Lakers are even remotely close to a playoff spot despite such a dismal record tells you how terrible the bottom half of the West is this season.

The best the Lakers can hope for, seeding-wise, is to finish ninth.
1.5 games separate Los Angeles from New Orleans in the standings, though the Lakers are running out of time to make up that ground. LA is also just a half-game ahead of San Antonio for the 10th seed and last play-in tournament spot. Falling below 11th-place Sacramento with a four-game gap between the teams isn’t likely, but it’s also not impossible.

James has already been ruled out of Thursday’s clash with the Jazz after injuring his ankle last weekend against New Orleans. There is still no timetable for LeBron’s return to the floor, which has the Lakers’ playoff odds looking extremely grim. Davis, who has missed the past few months with an ankle injury, is expected to return on Friday when the Lakers return home for a huge game against those same Pelicans.

The Lakers’ final seven opponents of the season have a collective .564 winning percentage. That’s the third-toughest remaining schedule in the entire league. New Orleans (.491) and San Antonio (.520) both have easier run-ins than the Lakers do. Both of those teams have just six games to play, as well.

In addition to the back-to-back with Utah and New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, the Lakers still have two games left against Denver along with showdowns against Phoenix and Golden State looming. The easiest game left on LA’s schedule is a home clash against a tanking Oklahoma City outfit, though the Thunder have already beaten the lowly Lakers twice so far this season.

So, it’s easy to see why the Lakers’ playoff odds look so dicey entering the final week of the regular season.

Are the Lakers Out of the Playoffs?

To Make Playoffs:
+450
To Miss Playoffs:
-700

Since the inception of the play-in format a couple of years ago, the NBA has defined making the playoffs as advancing beyond the play-in. So, the top-six finishers in each conference earn automatic playoff qualification. While the play-in tournament is literally postseason play, it doesn’t actually count as “making the playoffs.”

If James and Davis both return to the lineup on Friday, perhaps there is hope.

AD hasn’t suited up since injuring his ankle back on February 16th. For all of the talk about LA’s disappointing season, it’s worth noting the team has actually posted a winning record when completely healthy. With LeBron, Davis, and Russell Westbrook all in the lineup, Los Angeles is 11-10 with its three All-Stars in the lineup together.

Of course, health is crucial to any team at this time of the year. Even if Davis does return, keeping him on the floor is the hard part. AD has appeared in just 37 games so far this season, and he hasn’t cracked 70 games played in any campaign since 2017-18 with the Pelicans.

This is one of the best two-way players in the sport, so it’s no surprise that the Lakers’ defense has absolutely suffered in the minutes Davis has been on the bench. Given the long +450 Lakers playoffs odds, Frank Vogel likely can’t afford to limit the minutes of either Davis or James upon their returns. You can question whether LeBron really has much interest in bothering with the play-in scenario, but Vogel is coaching for his job.

It’s also worth mentioning the possibility that the Lakers’ remaining schedule may not be quite as daunting as it looks. Nobody is catching the Suns for the top seed in the playoffs, so perhaps Phoenix will use that game to rest some of their regulars. Golden State and Denver may not go into those contests at full strength, either.

What’s The Best Bet?

The Lakers are the NBA’s flagship franchise. As a result, you can bet Adam Silver is highly interested in Los Angeles finding a way to sneak into the playoffs at all costs. This team has proven it’s not cut out to contend for a championship this season, but even qualifying for the playoffs would be something of a moral victory.

The health outlook is decent, for now.
LeBron’s return looks dicier than Davis’ at this point, but there is still time for LA to rally if they can finally get both of their stars on the floor together. The Pelicans are legitimately better than the Lakers are at this point, but the Spurs aren’t the most daunting foe. If James and Davis are healthy enough to finish out the season, I do think Los Angeles has a good shot at staving off San Antonio for that final play-in spot.

As a result, taking a shot on the Lakers’ +155 odds to make the play-in makes a lot of sense. From there, however, the Lakers’ playoffs odds look dim. LA would have to beat New Orleans in the 9-vs.-10 matchup before a showdown against either the Timberwolves or Clippers after that. If they are lucky enough to survive the play-in tournament, their reward will be a rematch against Phoenix in the first round of the real playoffs.

Bet on the Lakers’ +155 odds to make the play-in. Pass on the Lakers’ playoffs odds at +450, however.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

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Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.

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