Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Odds And Hurdles
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Odds

The Los Angeles Lakers have good odds of making the 2020 NBA finals though there are a couple of obstacles on the way that could potentially thwart their progress.

Thus far the season has been smooth sailing for the Lakers, who comfortably entered the All-Star Break ahead of all other teams in the Western Conference. With 41 wins and only 12 losses, they are currently the +140 favorite to win the Western Conference on Betway, followed closely by Clippers at +200, and Houston Rockets at +750.

In the Eastern Conference, it’s all about the Milwaukee Bucks, who are mercilessly crushing any opposition and are comfortably ahead of both the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors in the standings. Currently, NBA Finals betting futures have Milwaukee the +225 favorite just ahead of the Lakers at +250.

The Lakers trail the Bucks when it comes to the best record in the league. The play Milwaukee again in early March at home and will look to even this year’s season series after taking a loss on the road to the Bucks in December.

Lakers Playoff Hurdle #1: Los Angeles Clippers

While they’re securely sitting on the number one spot in the West, they still need to prepare to beat the Clippers, who are not too far behind. The Lakers were expected to make some moves to better match-up with the Clippers prior to the NBA Trade Deadline. However, it has been the Clippers who have continuously reformated their team through trades and roster moves.

In acquiring Marcus Morris in a trade that included moving Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, and a number of draft picks, the Clippers not only added a player who makes their team better but prevented the Lakers from acquiring the type of scoring threat that they were known to have coveted. Morris arrives averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game while shooting a career-best 43.4 percent from deep. His efficiency from 3-point range is particularly impressive given he’s shooting more threes than ever at 6.1 per game.

The Lakers appear to still be looking to add but the jury is still out. The likely candidates include Dion Waiters who already played with LeBron James in the past. There is also J.R Smith, another James ex-teammate who’s been working out and might strengthen the team with his three-point sniping abilities. Tyler Johnson who’s competent on both offense and defense has also been mentioned.

Lakers Playoff Hurdle #2: Three-Point Shooting

The next issue that the Lakers have to face is their not-so-great three-point shooting depth. Currently, the Rockets lead the league in three-point field goals made per game, while the Bucks are fourth overall. The good news is that the Clippers are 16th. The bad news is that the Lakers are not much better and sit 19th overall.

What’s odd is that it’s not that the Lakers don’t have high-quality three-point shooters. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green are known for their range, but the conventional wisdom says that the Lakers need one more deep scoring threat and that’s exactly where a player such as J.R Smith could come in handy.

Lakers Playoff Hurdle #3: LeBron James Legs

Finally, the Lakers definitely must figure out ba way to avoid relying so heavily on James. James is a superstar player who can score in near-impossible situations and create fantastic scoring opportunities for others. The problem is that he’s the only real playmaker on the team and at 34 years old is being asked to play a lot of heavy minutes.

Truth is that when James is off the court, the Lakers struggle on both sides of the ball. James has shown he still has the stamina to play forty-minute games when needed, but that type of usage takes comes with some risk. James missed more games as a Laker last season than during any season in his pro career and is at a stage where injuries are more common.

The good news is that Mike Vogel has James playing fewer minutes per game than at any point in his career, the Lakers have Anthony Davis and veteran Rajon Rondo who have both shown they can step up when needed.

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