Could the star-laden Los Angeles Lakers miss the Western Conference playoffs entirely? It’s possible as Anthony Davis isn’t coming back anytime soon and Los Angeles is ninth in the West, just three games ahead of No. 11 Portland. Of course, teams seeded 6-10 reach the play-in tournament. Let’s take a look at the following analysis for your NBA bets.
NBA Playoffs Analysis
Some higher-ups in the Lakers organization want coach Frank Vogel to pull struggling Russell Westbrook from the starting lineup and bring him off the bench but Vogel has resisted. He has held Westbrook out of closing stretches of games on a few occasions this season. He’s just not suited to play off the ball. He’s shooting 28 percent from 3. Westbrook has made it clear he sees himself as a starter and a closer, and he would not be OK with being demoted. Vogel is in a sticky situation.
Westbrook has averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 34.4 minutes a game this season. Vogel has maintained that there’s still an opportunity for Westbrook to make a late-season charge as he did a season ago with the Washington Wizards.
“We have discussions, just like the front office has thousands of trade discussions every deadline, and they don’t discuss every one of those. Most of them don’t come to fruition. And that’s where we’re at with Russ. Is there a path where that’s the better option? We have talked about that. We’ve talked about everything we can do with our team,” Vogel said when asked about benching Westbrook. “We’re not there.”
Despite “a little struggle” in finding his role in his first season with the Lakers, Westbrook said he remains determined.
“My role and what I’m doing has changed every single night,” Westbrook said. “So I’m just trying to figure that out as I’m playing and to be able to benefit and help my team.”
We still think the Lakers will reach the play-in tournament simply because No. 11 Portland isn’t very good and has traded away many of its best players. Damian Lillard isn’t close to a return, either. ESPN’s BPI suggests a 9% chance of the Lakers earning the eighth seed through the play-in.
In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets probably will be headed to the play-in tournament as well. They sit ninth in the East, 2.5 games ahead of No. 11 Washington. It doesn’t appear that Ben Simmons will debut this week, however. As a result of his holdout in Philadelphia, the last time Simmons played in an NBA game was Game 7 of the Sixers’ second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks on June 20.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said that they hope he’ll be able to begin ramping up his return-to-play program by the end of next week.
“Unfortunately his back stiffness has delayed his ability to get on the court with his teammates. so he’s been rehabbing this last sort of week to 10 days,” Marks said. “And then now he’ll progress throughout this week with some individual [work]. Hopefully, by the end of next week he’s getting more into the team environment, and then we can really ramp up and start him getting into sort of game shape and so forth.”
Kyrie Irving still can’t play in home games due to the New York City COVID mandate. A public mandate will be eliminated on Monday but not a private sector mandate. So while the unvaccinated Irving could attend Nets home games starting this week, he still can’t play. Mayo Eric Adams said that it “would send the wrong message” to the rest of the city if he were to make an exception for Irving to play without being vaccinated.
“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court,” Adams said. “I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue,” Adams said in the interview.
Nets star forward Kevin Durant became just the 23rd player in NBA history to hit the 25,000-point mark during Sunday’s 126-120 loss to the Boston Celtics. Durant would be much closer to the 30,000 mark had it not been for a torn right Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals that cost him the entire 2019-20 season and a variety of different injuries that have piled up in recent years, including a sprained left MCL that cost him a month and a half of this season. Durant joins Los Angeles Lakers forwards LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as the only active players in the 25,000-point club.