Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider) writes that the numbers suggest the Los Angeles Lakers have a better chance of making the playoffs over the Portland Trail Blazers.
For the first time in weeks, the Lakers looked likely to make the playoffs after winning at Brooklyn Tuesday night. The Hollinger Playoff Odds give them a 47.4 percent shot of making the playoffs; my simulation is even more optimistic because it incorporates preseason Vegas lines, weighted about half as much as performance to date based on research by Insider's Neil Paine. The Lakers made it a full 57 percent of the time.
Just when the Lakers were starting to feel good about their chances, they found out they will be without Pau Gasol for an extended period. After an MRI Wednesday, the Lakers announced that Gasol has a torn plantar fascia. Such an injury usually carries a timetable of at least 3-4 weeks, and a league source told ESPNLA.com that the Lakers are expecting to be without Gasol for 4-6 weeks -- about half the remainder of the season.
Portland admirably continues to hang in the playoff race despite a point differential similar to the 18-28 Minnesota Timberwolves and 17-32 Toronto Raptors. If the Blazers are still even with or ahead of the Lakers after the two teams play the day after the trade deadline, then it will be time to start taking their playoff chances seriously.
The Blazers are currently in ninth with a record of 25-24. The Lakers are in tenth with a record of 23-26.
Back in January, Pelton wrote that the Blazers would be hard-pressed to finish above .500.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter