NBA Stats

Apr 5 2013 4:11PM

The Race for Eighth Continues Out West

By Jay Cipoletti

The Lakers enter tonight's contest at home against Memphis holding a half game advantage over Utah for the final playoff spot in the West. The Jazz play host to the Hornets at the same time. Given the outcomes of past meetings this season, no one will be surprised if the Lakers and Utah flip positions in the standings after tonight's games. What should surprise everyone is that the race should already be over. Using Pythagorean Win expectation (Hollinger's 16.5 exponent), the Lakers Net Margin projects to a 57.44% winning percentage, suggesting a record of 43-32 with seven games remaining. Rather than battling for the final spot in the playoffs, the Lakers play this season should have them in the mix with Golden State and Houston for the coveted 6th spot, also referred to as the "not playing OKC or the Spurs in the 1st round" spot. While the Lakers have somehow left 4 wins on the court this season, the Jazz's Net Margin projects to a winning percentage of 46.84%, which would put them at 36-40 entering tonight's game. Utah has found a way to manufacture 3 wins above expectations, allowing them to stay in the playoff chase when in all likelihood they should be eliminated.

Lakers Playoff PathOpponentOffensive RatingDefensive RatingNet MarginRecord
Season Memphis102.3112.4-10.10-2
105.5 OffRtg@ LA Clippers106.0116.4-10.40-3
103.6 DefRtgNew Orleans113.0100.0+13.03-0
1.9 Net Margin@ Portland109.4105.2+4.22-1
Actual 39-36Golden State100.295.6+4.62-1
Pyth 43-32San Antonio96.899.0-2.20-2

Jazz Playoff Path OpponentOffensive RatingDefensive RatingNet MarginRecord
Season New Orleans104.7100.8+3.92-1
103.9 OffRtg@ Golden State102.0104.6-2.61-1
104.7 DefRtgOklahoma City98.1109.5-11.41-2
-0.8 Net MarginMinnesota105.592.7+12.82-0
Actual 39-37@ Minnesota105.592.7+12.82-0
Pyth 36-40Memphis97.9103.2-5.31-2