Last month marked the three-year anniversary of the day Lakers team president Jeanie Buss made the tough decision to relieve her brother, Jim Buss, from his duties as the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations after 12 seasons, and replace him with Magic Johnson. While the latter of the two decisions garnered mix results, the former signified the start of her quest to get the Lakers back to championship contention.
Three years later, and she’s done just that.
Following a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the Lakers have a record of 47-13, which is the best record in the Western Conference by 5.5 games. If the Lakers win their next two games, they’ll clinch a playoff berth for the first time in seven years on Sunday. They could also clinch by going 1-1, but then the Sacramento Kings would have to lose on Saturday or Sunday.
However they get in, it’s a near certainty that the Lakers be playing in the postseason this year, and no one is more excited about it than Buss herself. During a season ticket-holder event on Tuesday, Buss said that she’s ready for her team’s playoff drought to officially be over in April (via L.A. Times Sports):
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the playoffs. We were talking about how nice it is to have that anticipation of finally being back in the conversation of the NBA, and being able to compete at a high level. Being first in the Western Conference, it’s very exciting. And Lakers fans deserve it, and here we are.”
The last time the Lakers were in the playoffs in 2013, they played as the No. 7 seed and were swept by the No. 2 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round. This season, they’ll enter the postseason as one of the favorites to win the title.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s 2019-20 predictions, the Lakers have an 18% chance of winning the NBA Finals, which is the third-best percentage behind the Milwaukee Bucks (24%) and LA Clippers (19%). Additionally, DraftKings has given the Lakers the second-best odds (+280) to win the title behind the Bucks (+230).
While it might take an emotional toll on the fans to be thrown into the middle of the fire after seven years, the feelings of anguish will make the victories that much sweeter, and with the talent the Lakers have, there will be a few wins worth celebrating in April and hopefully beyond.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.