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NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Could be a Dangerous Playoff Team

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The team assembled in the offseason, the one that was supposed to win a lot of games and challenge the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” with a trio of their own, has failed miserably this season.

Any team with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash on the roster should not be 42-37 and barely have the #8 seed in the Western Conference. The team also shouldn’t be just a game up on the Utah Jazz for a playoff berth, and shouldn’t be forced to win the last five games of the season just to get in.

However, that is where the Los Angeles Lakers are, and that is what they must do to get into the playoffs as the #8 seed.

If the Lakers win their next three games, they will get in. However, if Los Angeles and Utah are both tied for the final playoff spot, the Jazz own the tiebreaker. So, the Lakers control their own destiny-if they win they’re in.

Bryant has done everything that’s humanly possible to carry this team. In his 17th year in the league, Bryant is averaging 27.3 points per game, but has also been the most productive at sharing the ball as he has been since 2004-05 (6 assists per night).

Howard, who has clashed with Bryant this season, is putting up 16.8 points and is grabbing an NBA-best 12.4 rebounds per game for the Lakers.

It doesn’t make sense that a team with two of the best players in the NBA went 20-26 through January. Since then, the team has gone 22-11 and is playing like its hungry for the playoffs.

If LA squares off against the San Antonio Spurs (who are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the #1 seed) in the first round, the Lakers will win- San Antonio is ravaged by injuries and Los Angeles still has the Black Mamba, one of the greatest postseason players of all time. There is a reason that there are playoffs and the champion is not determined by the team with the best record. If the Lakers get the Thunder, they can make a series out of it. OKC would be favored, but I believe Los Angeles would make it close.

The Lakers have turned it on since the beginning of this catastrophe of a season, but they will have their chance to rectify their poor performance in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

If, in fact, they do get in.

For more from Thomas Duffy, follow him on Twitter @ThomasDuffyNBA for articles, news, and all things NBA.