Los Angeles Lakers Odds to Make Playoffs: Too Late for the Lake Show?

The Lakers have been a fringe team for much of the season and are hanging on by the skin of their teeth to even make the Play-In Tournament. With just a couple of months left, can L.A. sneak into the postseason?

Feb 20, 2024 • 16:45 ET • 4 min read
LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

As recently as January 14, the Los Angeles Lakers were looking in from the outside of all versions of the Western Conference playoffs. Given the All-Star Break, that means the Lakers are effectively just a month removed from worrying if they had any hopes of reaching the postseason.

Now, they sit at No. 9 in the West with a four-game cushion from getting knocked out of the Play-In Tournament.

Some of that shift is a credit to Los Angeles, going 11-5 in that month. Some of it was a failing by the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets, going 5-10 and 5-11, respectively.

Are the Lakers now in solid enough position to be trusted to make the postseason beyond the Play-In Tournament? Let's take a look at the latest NBA odds to find out.

Los Angeles Lakers odds to make playoffs

Yes No
+102 -124

Odds courtesy FanDuel Sportsbooks on February 19, 2024

Los Angeles Lakers season at a glance

Los Angeles Lakers fans like to say their season has been undone by injury, but that is a tough complaint to be taken seriously when LeBron James has played 49 of 56 games, D’Angelo Russell has played 51, and Anthony Davis has played 52. Injuries to Gabe Vincent (five games) and Jarred Vanderbilt (29) should not be what torpedo a season.

The Lakers toggled between two games below .500 and two games above .500 to start the season before an early peak at 14-9 in early December. But then a 1-5 stretch knocked Los Angeles into the gray area that defined a bulk of its year. Worse yet, it was part of a 3-10 period that left the Lakers in the No. 11 spot where their season seemed to be trending toward a wasted one — something no basketball fan wants to tolerate at this point in LeBron's career.

The clearest shift for Los Angeles between that 3-10 stumble and the 11-5 surge to get back into the mix came from Russell.

Davis’ scoring actually fell in the winning times compared to the losing times. As always, LeBron’s numbers hardly varied. Austin Reaves averaged 17 points and six assists in both periods, his shooting sticking within a percentage point of 50% in each.

But Russell? When the Lakers were losing, Russell scored 10.1 points per game with 5.8 assists while shooting just 40.7% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc.

When the Lakers were winning leading into the All-Star Break, Russell scored 22.3 points per game with 6.8 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field and 45.3% from three

He has become a bit of a journeyman point guard, on his third team in five years, and frequently part of trade rumors before this month’s deadline. But Russell may be the key to Los Angeles’ postseason hopes.

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Will Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs?

First of all, a clarification, the Play-In Tournament does not count as the playoffs. To cash a “Yes” bet here, the Lakers would need to play in a best-of-seven round.

Los Angeles has two routes to that plight: escape the Play-In Tournament in the regular season or win its way out of the PIT in mid-April.

The former would be a shock. The Lakers are 3.5 games behind the No. 6 seed with three teams to jump in that pursuit. For that matter, Los Angeles is two games behind the Kings to even reach the 7-8 Play-In game.

The Lakers would need to rattle off an impressive closing third of the season to avoid the 9-10 Play-In game. Logic says the NBA will delight in a Lakers-Warriors matchup to start the postseason elimination process.

If that game were played now, Los Angeles would be about a 1- or 1.5-point favorite at home against Golden State. To keep this process simple, and to acknowledge the chance the Lakers could slip to No. 10 and the Warriors would get home-court advantage, let’s conservatively set that projected moneyline at an even +100.

If Los Angeles won that game, it would then need to upset the loser of the 7-8 Play-In game. For this exercise, assume that will be the Kings, currently the No. 8 and with the seeming lowest ceiling among the Suns, Pelicans and Mavs.

Sacramento would be at least a 3-point favorite right now. Make the Lakers a +130 moneyline underdog in this hypothetical.

Betting Los Angeles in both legs of that would pay out at +260, and those above odds were all intentionally conservative. That reality alone proves the value in betting against the Lakers to make the playoffs at the current odds.

Best Bet: Lakers to miss the playoffs (-124 at FanDuel)

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