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Can the Lakers still make the playoffs after LeBron James injury?

A strong run of recent results was offset by losing LeBron James for most of the next month. Is the end result still a playoff appearance?

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been quite a roller-coaster week for the Lakers on and off the court. From crazy comebacks to multiple injuries and a big win for the playoff hopes, the week had a bit of everything. The end result is the Lakers being as close as they’ve been in a long time to the playoffs.

Is that strong run indicative of the Lakers finally making a run to become a playoff team or one last push from a team that may be running out of steam?

DraftKings odds

The Lakers aren’t officially in the playoffs. In reality, there’s still plenty of work to be done to get there as even a spot in the play-in game is not, technically, a postseason appearance. And to get into the playoffs, they either need to make up the 2.5 games that separate them and the sixth seed or win potentially multiple play-in games.

Because of that, our friends at DraftKings have the odds for the Lakers to make the playoffs at +165. If you’re a non-believer, the odds come in at -210 for them to miss the postseason.

There are plenty of arguments to be made both ways. If you think they’ll miss the playoffs, it’s probably based on the fact that their best player might be done for the season. LeBron James was ruled out for at least three weeks on Thursday and may not even return then.

D’Angelo Russell’s injury, which initially seemed like a short-term recovery time, is also dragging on as well. Plus, there’s just a constant cloud of concern around Anthony Davis’ health.

If you’re more positive about the Lakers chances, though, it probably centers on how good the new-look Lakers have looked from the jump. Without having much in the way of chemistry, the Lakers have played exceedingly well since the trade deadline and have had a number of impressive wins, multiple of those shorthanded.

It’s a team that is far more balanced, has much more depth and is more capable of absorbing LeBron’s injury than they were before the deadline. It’s not to say LeBron’s injury won’t be a setback, but they aren’t as reliant on his brilliance as they were months ago.

It also should be noted that the Western Conference is aggressively mid this year, bordering outright bad. The Thunder have come out of the All-Star break without a win. The Pelicans have done a LOT more losing than winning in the last month-and-a-half. Utah traded a number of its role players at the deadline — a few to the Lakers — and replaced them with no one. The only win the Blazers have in their last games came because Damian Lillard scored 71 points.

The Lakers are one of the few teams with good vibes surrounding them right now. Good vibes aren’t enough for wins but momentum isn’t a bad thing. I tend to side with optimism on this one because it’s a lot more fun to root for. And because the Lakers actually feel like a real team again.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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