Posted on February 16, 2019, by Travis Pulver

When the Los Angeles Lakers convinced LeBron James to bring his considerable talents to the West Coast, the world assumed one thing would happen. They assumed the Lakers would make their triumphant return to the playoffs this season.

With the young talent on the roster, the progress that Luke Walton had made in his first two seasons, and now the addition of James, it seemed like a smart bet.

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However, a lot of people didn’t think so. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened with the odds at -450 the Lakers make the playoffs and +350 that they do not.  While a majority of the bets placed were on the Lakers missing the playoffs (59 percent), most of the money was waged in favor of the Lakers making it.

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When the bet closed the odds on the Lakers making the playoffs were -600. That meant they had an 85.7 percent shot. Not bad, right?

But with how the season has gone so far it is not as easy to say the Lakers are a playoff team anymore. Heading into the All-Star break, they had lost four of their last five including a 42-point loss at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, a 23-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and a four-point loss to the woeful Atlanta Hawks.

Their record dropped to one game below .500 (28-29). They are three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

While health has been an issue for James and several other players, more was expected of the Lakers at this point in the season. With the team failing to make a big move prior to the trade deadline, the confidence oddsmakers had in them has been shaken.

On Friday, the Westgate Super Book reopened the prop bet about whether the Lakers would make the playoffs this season with drastically different odds:

  • Yes -110
  • No -110

That means the Lakers now have a 52.4 percent chance to make it down from 85.7 percent.

The odds still aren’t terrible, but they aren’t necessarily good anymore either. Before, oddsmakers seemed confident they would make it. Yet, now it looks like they are saying it could go either way; it’s a toss-up. But with 25 games to go, it is not that hard to imagine them overcoming a three-game deficit.

If they can take their two remaining games against the Clippers, they can make up two of the games right there.

However, the Lakers will not have any room for error going forward. The strength of their remaining schedule is among the top ten. For the Clippers, it is in the bottom third of the league. But James seems confident the team can do it. They just need to do whatever it takes to return from the All-Star break with the right attitude.

“You got to decompress and get away from the game a little bit,” James told reporters recently following a game (ESPN). “… But just get fresh, get your minds right, get your bodies right. Come back with the notion that we’ll make the playoffs.”   

If they do make it, great—basketball fans everywhere win. But if they don’t, the odds on Luke Walton’s job security will likely see a massive shift.

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