This is my first attempt at a fanpost but I am a regular viewer on SS&R. I apologize if I don't follow or am not privy to all of the fanpost etiquette. Anyway, I think the Lakers have an extremely legitimate shot at passing Chicago and Boston for the second best record in the league. It would take a collapse of epic proportions at this point for San Antonio to fall out of the overall best record for the league. I've had a look at the rest of the schedule for the Lakers, Bulls, and Celtics and after the jump I will explain why things are looking quite rosy for the Lakers.
So I wanted to give this a shot before the game against Minnesota but just never got around to it. Here goes. As most of you probably know, the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls are virtually tied for the second best overall record in the league. The Lakers have one more win and one more loss which puts them percentage points behind the Eastern Conference teams. The Lakers have a heavy home schedule for their final 12 games of the season with Phoenix, Clips, NO, and Dallas to finish out this current homestand. Then they travel to Utah and come back home to face Denver and Utah again. Followed by roadies in GS and Portland, home contests with SA and OKC, and finishing on the road against Sacto. The Bulls apparently alternate home and road for the next few games. They play tonight at home vs Sacto then travel to Atlanta, home for Memphis, road for Milwaukee, home for Philly, road for Minny and Detroit. Then home for Toronto, Phoenix, and Boston. Circle that last one. Then roadies against the Cavs, Knicks, and Magic before finishing at home versus the Nets. Now the Celtics. I was hesitant to look for the C's schedule because their home page would be in my internet browser history now but it had to be done. The C's play tonight in NY, then two at home vs Mem and Charlotte. Four on the road against the Wolves, Pacers, Spurs, and Hawks. Home for Detroit and Philly. The @Chi game that I mentioned earlier. Home for the Wiz, then travel to Miami and the same Wiz before ending at home vs NY.
Just looking at those opponents and taking nothing else into consideration the Celtics clearly have the hardest path in front of them for many reasons. At face value, I think the Lakers and Bulls are interchangable as far as difficulty of the remaining schedule is concerned. Now I will go into a bit more detail.
Straight home vs road for the rest of the season: Advantage Lakers
Lakers: 8 home 4 road
Chicago: 7 home 7 road
Boston: 8 home 6 road
Winning % of remaining opponents: Advantage Bulls. (I did not check this work so I hope it is correct)
This is to be expected though since the Lakers final 12 games are against Western Conference teams while the Bulls and Celtics play many of the Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers. The Western Conference is clearly still the class of the NBA despite what one may hear on ESPN for this entire season.
Number of back-to-backs: Advantage Lakers
Boston: 4, including a four game in six night stretch
So there is the slightly more than first-ish glance at those three teams remaining schedules. That alone, I believe, points things in the Lakers favor. They have more home games and less back-to-backs than the Bulls. The Celtics already look like their ship is sinking since the Perk deal and they have a hellish schedule for the geriatric squad that they are.
I will only speculate on the Lakers remaining schedule because I am not enough of an NBA fan to give expert knowledge of Chicago needing to travel to ATL after playing Sacto tonight. If I would have posted this before the Twolves game on Friday then the Lakers would have needed to go 12-2 to finish with 60 wins on the year. Something that seemed impossible at the All-Star break with a 38-19 record. That means they would have to go 22-3. Fortunately they are now 12-1 since the ASB leaving them needing to go 10-2 down the stretch run. I will go game by game but the two classic traps games I see are a second night of back-to-back in Utah, always a difficult place to play. Also, a late season road game in Portland but I hope they have exorcised their Rose Garden demons at this point. One doesn't necessarily know what to get from Denver and Utah since their trades and OKC could be starving for a quality win that close to the playoffs but they are very solidly in the 4th slot in the West
Game #1: 3/22 vs. Phoenix. W, even without Andrew. Barring another barrage of 3s like earlier this year the Lakers should win this game going away.
Game #2: 3/25 vs. Clips. W. I have tickets to this game so I obviously want a W. Their last matchup versus the Clippers went much better as the Lakers pulled away easily in the second half. And it will be Drew's first game back from suspension.
Game #3: 3/27 vs. NO. W. Limiting David West is about all the Lakers need to do here. CP3 is down this year and don't let Bellinelli (sp?) look like an All-Star.
Game #4: 3/31 vs. Dallas. W. This is a statement game. The Lakers took this team in Dallas last time and it is a second of a back-to-back for the Mavs. They play the Clips the night before. The Lakers will have 3 days off before this game and should be foaming at the mouth for it. A W would even more solidify at least 2nd in the West.
Game #5: 4/1 @ Utah. L. Maybe this is just old history convincing me to say a loss. The Jazz won't have D-Will to be killing it all game but Al Jefferson seems to be ripping it up lately and we cannot depend on Carlos Boozer to put up a game that is way below his skill set like he perennially did as a member of the Jazz vs the Lakers. I hope I am wrong but this could especially be a let down after beating the Mavs the night before.
Game #6: 4/3 vs. Denver. W. Like I said earlier, I don't know what to expect from Denver since the trade. Especially since they are 9-2, I think. The Lakers often have the psychological advantage over this team and I don't expect that to change with Mr. Big Shot over in NY.
Game #7: 4/5 vs. Utah. W. Playing in LA is a whole different story than playing in Utah.
Game #8: 4/6 @ GS. W. Even in the second night of a back-to-back the Lakers should still win this one. Watch Monta and Steph.
Game #9: 4/8 @ Portland. L. Again, maybe history is making me say this. They scraped out a great W vs Portland last night and I was glad to see them play through the refs swallowing their whistles both ways the whole game. A victory here would end the talk of the Lakers being cursed in the Rose Garden. And Kobe relishes these situations.
Game #10: 4/10 vs OKC. W. I also have tickets for this game. A win here would put me at 4-0 on the season for the Lakers games that I went to. I don't really know what to expect here. OKC could be quite different with Perk in the center spot and wanting a marquee win versus the champs on the road. However, they will be solidly in 4th spot by then with no chance of going up or down. This will be billed as a playoff matchup, however I doubt it as OKC will have to beat Denver and SA before they would see the Lakers in the WCFs.
Game #11: 4/12 vs. SA. W. San Antonio will be resting everybody by now and they know the Lake Show inside and out. They're not going to learn anything new before the playoffs in this matchup.
Game #12: 4/13 @Sacto. W. Sacto could be considered a trap game and they have beaten LA on the road this year. But I don't think it will happen. They will have mailed the season in already and I don't think players like DeMarcus Cousins will be putting in a full effort on a team that could lose 60 games this year.
So there it is. A 10-2 record would put the Lakers at 60-22. That means the Celtics and Bulls would tie the Lakers if each of those teams went 11-3 which I believe the Bulls could do but I don't think the Celtics stand of chance of getting there. Does somebody out there know how an interconference tie breaker works? The Lakers and Bulls split the season series this year. Beyond that, I look forward to any thoughts and input. And Go Lakers. 3peat.