When it comes to the NBA, this is often the dullest time of year. The teams at the top and bottom are just waiting for the regular season to end, while the teams in the middle grind for a playoff berth with no chance to make it through any back-to-back-to-back-to-back series once those playoffs start.
While it's only natural to not give a crap about teams hovering around .500 this late in the year, there are select instances where the latter sentence can be entertaining for those craving plotlines. After all, though people in Orlando may not like to hear it, there's a difference between a 30-35 Magic team trying to hold on to their eight-spot so they can play for one bonus week versus a primetime franchise in the nation's second-biggest market trying to squeak into the playoffs the season after adding the league's biggest name.
Obviously we're talking about the Lakers here. On Saturday, things got about as easy as they're going to be from here on out, as all they had to do was travel to Phoenix to beat a bottom-feeding Suns team that possesses the NBA's worst record. Instead, they lost 118-109.
That defeat was a nutshot to the team's fans, as well as to gamblers who put their money on L.A. making their first postseason appearance in six years after LeBron signed there this past summer. As ESPN wrote:
The Lakers now have +600 odds (a $100 wager would win $600) to make the postseason at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, by far their worst odds all season. They are a staggering -900 favorite to miss the postseason.
Relatively recently the team looked like a safe bet (accompanied with a lower payout) to keep playing past mid-April. As ESPN adds, the Lakers were "+240 to make the playoffs before Saturday's game and had -110 odds at the All-Star break." Gamblers had put a nearly even amount of money on both outcomes. Also, SuperBook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman told ESPN that the prop bet on whether or not L.A. would make the postseason had brought in over six figures since the All-Star break just a few weeks ago.
Before the opening tip of the 2018-19 season, the Lakers were considered a pretty safe bet at -450 to make the playoffs and +350 to miss them. At the moment they have a record of 30-33 which puts them in 10th place in the West, 4.5 games behind San Antonio for that not-so-coveted-but-still-notable eighth spot. Without David Stern's refs, it's going to be tough for the league to get a built-for-hype Warriors-Lakers series in round one. If things hold the way they look like they're going to hold, then LeBron's personal streak of 13 straight playoff appearances would snap. That's a lot of years where he made it look easy but things always come to an end, or whatever, and sh*t can definitely be harder than it looks.