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    LeBron, Lakers will have a mountain to climb just to reach playoffs

    Oct 29, 2018
    PHOTO: AP
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    CHICAGO - If you're a Laker fan diligently setting aside hard-earned cash for tickets to this season's NBA playoffs, which begin on April 13, 2019, you might wanna have an alternate plan on where to spend that money.

    I know, it's too early to tell. Blah. Blah. Blah.

    But after six games, the trend already suggests that a postseason berth is a tall mountain to climb for the purple-and-gold franchise. It's like one of those senatorial race surveys: if the candidate is out of the top 20, chances are there will be no swearing in ceremonies to clear the calendar for.

    Currently at 11th place in the talent-heavy Western Conference, the Lakers are wilting with a 2-4 slate. Based on last season's team standings, they will need 47 total wins to make the playoffs. And that means going 45-31 the rest of the way.

    If you think that's steep, wait 'til you see this. The Lakers' next upcoming five games will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves (twice), the Dallas Mavericks, the Portland Trail Blazers and the undefeated (6-0) Toronto Raptors.

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    If they go 2-3 on that swing, as many reasonably expect them to do, their record will be 4-7 by November 7. It then changes their magic number to 43-28 to finish the season. And for a team that can't even put three straight wins together, what foundation is there to believe that they will be 15 games above average when their 82-game regular season wraps up on April 9 next year?

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    Although I've had a past fling with the San Antonio Spurs and have carried on a shameless and ongoing lovefest with the Golden State Warriors, I truly am a lifelong Lakers fan. I've been one since I was in sixth grade in 1980 when I spent most of morning recess staring at posters of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamaal Wilkes in the canteen walls of Colegio Del Santo Nino in my hometown of Cebu City.

    But even with my stern Roman Catholic upbringing that encourages the belief in miracles, I don't see a prayer in which the Lakers make the top eight in the West.

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    Why?

    Because doing that means they would have to leapfrog the Mavericks, the Sacramento Kings and the Memphis Grrizlies for the coveted eighth spot. They also need to somehow hold off the Timberwolves, the OKC Thunder and the Houston Rockets.

    Yeah, I've seen LeBron James do some breathtaking stunts on the air. But he' ain't walking on water with his Nikes. And he sure can't turn Gatorade into wine.

    No way.

    The polluted Laker fans will argue that their team will be okay because they put up 122.3 points per, which is third in the NBA. But that stat is negated by the fact that the Lakers D takes more hits than a Lito Lapid movie villain, surrendering 122 points a contest. Also, LA's defensive rating of 113.5 is 21st in the league and their three-point shooting, a lethal weapon in today's game, is a dull 32.5 percent.

    Through six games LeBron is being LeBron, averaging 27.4 points 9.0 rebounds and 8.3 assists while clocking in a taxing 36 minutes a game. But he'll be 34 this December and those 44,514 playing minutes on his knees will eventually slow down the three-time NBA champ and four-time NBA MVP.

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    Still, somewhere down the road - with Kawhi Leonard defecting from Toronto or Anthony Davis abandoning New Orleans - the Lakers will prove that acquiring LeBron will indeed produce a Cinderella story.

    However, that teary fairly tale definitely won't happen this season.

    It's not that the shoe doesn't fit. It's just that the Lakers have too many foot blisters to go to the big dance.

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    PHOTO: AP
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