Los Angeles Lakers: Updated Playoff Odds and Kobe's Guarantee

Todd Pheifer@tpheiferAnalyst IIIFebruary 22, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers wears the patch honoring Lakers late owner Dr. Jerry Buss during the game with the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are making the playoffs in 2013, at least according to prognosticator Kobe Bryant (via Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated). Does Kobe do stock tips as well?

In sports we love the statistics, particularly when they go our way. The problem is that the numbers are stacked against Bryant’s guarantee that the Lakers will make the playoffs.

Is a playoff spot for the Lakers possible? Anything is possible. The Lakers are not a long shot to make the postseason by any means as they are only three-and-a-half games behind the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot.

Does that three-and-a-half number feel familiar? It should.

Los Angeles has floated around that number for quite some time. Certainly, it is not an insurmountable deficit. A quick, four-game winning streak by the Lakers and a four-game losing streak by the Rockets would do the trick.

Oh, by the way, those objects in your rearview mirror that are closer than they appear are the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks. Beating them in the next two games would certainly help. Denver will be waiting after that.

What phrase would be appropriate here when we are talking about catching Houston down the stretch? I’ll believe it when I see it? Don’t hold your breath?

If you are into statistical analysis, Hollinger’s playoff odds (via ESPN.com) suggest that the Lakers currently have a 32.7 percent chance of making the playoffs. Does that number factor in Kobe’s guarantee?

The Lakers are projected to finish at 41-41 and the Rockets are predicted to have a final record of 43-39. For those of you scoring at home, that means Los Angeles may need to finish 44-38 and to overcome Houston. At 26-29, the Lakers would need to finish the season with an 18-9 run.

That would be a pretty hot streak to say the least.

In other words, Los Angeles must play at a .667 clip when they have played .472 ball to this point. The confidence is admirable, but the numbers do not exactly support the player comments.

Los Angeles is still giving up 100.9 points per game, good for 23rd in the NBA. Simply suggesting that the Lakers need to play better defense will not result in an infusion of youth and athleticism. To go 18-9, Los Angeles can’t win every game in a shootout.

The final 27 games will not be easy. Los Angeles plays 13 games at home and must play 14 on the road where it has a 9-18 record.

Remaining opponents include the Clippers, San Antonio, Oklahoma City (twice), Chicago, Indiana, Denver and Houston.

Kobe’s comments are expected. After all, what is he going to say? Even if Bryant had some lingering doubt about the playoffs, he is probably not going to state that publicly. At least not yet.

Maybe Kobe is right. Perhaps the Lakers will rally and overcome the Rockets and anyone else who stands in their path. Larger deficits have been overcome.

The odds just don’t look very good right now.