Part two of the NBA season put teams smack dab in the middle of a playoff push. Most of the teams still have a shot at some kind of postseason and those same teams have plenty of questions to go around. Let’s take a quick glance at a few situations around the league that could have huge playoff implications.
La, La, Lakers
The Lakers are struggling to find wins, chemistry and even healthy bodies this season. A 27-31 record has them currently ninth in the Western Conference. As of now, their best chance to advance in the postseason will go through the Play-In games.
The Lakers are allowing 112.4 points per game (24th in the league) and teams are shooting over 45℅ from the field against them. They are tenth in scoring at 110.9 points per game. The numbers don’t add up for a team with multiple former All Stars.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook haven’t figured out how to play with each other, Anthony Davis hasn’t figured out how to stay on the court and Frank Vogel hasn’t figured out any consistent lineups or how to make adjustments late in games.
In a nutshell, the Lakers haven’t figured out anything (yet) this season and it remains to be seen if they will.
Brooklyn to Broad Street
James Harden has forced his way to yet another team and this might be his last real chance at a championship. The Philadelphia 76ers are currently third in the Eastern Conference with a 35-23 record. Adding Harden for the stretch run could be what the doctor ordered or possibly the actual reason for the doctor’s visit itself.
Harden is averaging 22.5 points per game on just over 41% shooting so far this season. Those numbers will have to improve when he recovers from a hamstring injury and hits the floor. Joel Embiid (29.6 points, 11.2 rebounds per game) is having an MVP caliber season. The ball will have to continue to go through him for Philadelphia to remain successful.
If Harden can (somehow) get back to his MVP play, he and Embiid could provide an inside-outside combination that’s nearly unbeatable. If Harden continues his insubordinate ways, the 76ers could be kicking themselves in the backside for pulling the trigger on this one.
The Phoenix Suns have the league’s best record at 48-10 but they received some bad news over the weekend. Chris Paul has a fractured thumb and will be reevaluated in 6-8 weeks. With about seven weeks left in the regular season, can the Suns sustain their top seed and maintain their level of play?
Paul is averaging 14.9 points and 10.7 assists per game this season. His ability to spread the ball around and get teammates involved is vital to the Suns success. They will have a tough time filling the void with backup point guard Cameron Payne out for a few weeks as well.
Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges will have to step their game up in the coming weeks. They might be able to replace some of Paul’s numbers but his leadership and basketball IQ will be sorely missed on the court.