Back on Track: Title Still Possible for the Lakers?

True or False: A healthy, motivated Lakers team can still compete for the Western Conference title in this years’ playoffs.

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Belal Abdelfattah // @KyrieSWERVEing:

True-ish. It really depends more on how well the Lakers are playing together than anything else. There’s enough talent here to compete with any other roster, and that becomes even more true once Pau returns from injury to anchor a Laker bench that’s been playing well. If they have it clicking come playoff time, the Lakers can hang with any team in the Conference.

Alex Lambeth // @AlexLambeth:

True, but health is the key. Pau Gasol should be back in 2-3 weeks and Dwight Howard’s shoulder injury seems to be improving. If, and that’s a big if, the Lakers’ nine-man rotation is fully healthy for the playoffs, they should be a force to reckon with.

John Gaffer // @jewelslamo:

True. But only if they ratchet up their defense and the bench players contribute on a consistent basis. It can’t be Kobe vs the world.

Bummi Anderson // @BummiNAnderson:

Absolutely true! Playoffs is a separate season unto itself. A full healthy Lakers squad will be dangerous.

James Cypert // @JamesCypert:

False. If the Lakers somehow manage to leapfrog Houston for the 6-seed, they have a good chance of making it out of the first round of the playoffs. After that, it looks doubtful at this point that the Lakers could overcome either San Antonio or Oklahoma City to then make the Western Conference Title…which will most likely be against whichever of those two teams is not on the Lakers’ side of the bracket.

Felipe Amaral // @F_Amaral:

True. Health and energy have been two of the biggest problems the Lakers had to face this season. Having everyone motivated and good to go would allow the team’s talent to rise to the surface. And talent is the best asset of the ’12-13 Lakers. The question has always been about putting all the pieces to work together for the long haul.

Oren Levy // @LakersOren:

True. The Lakers have found some chemistry, and since their 17-25 low-point, they are 16-6 – which is a 59-60 game winning pace if stretched over an entire season. The Lakers are back, and will have super-sub Pau Gasol come back and take the team to another level.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia:

True. However, that only means they could compete.  Whether they could actually do it or not is different.  Having to play either OKC or SA in a second or third round matchup would be an extremely difficult task for a team that has underperformed all season.

Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII:

A healthy motivated Lakers team can win a western conference title. Considering the future, Pau Gasol will be back by then and could only cause more trouble for opposing teams. When the Lakers are motivated, they win. When they are not, they look bad. It’s safe to say that #VINO will keep them inspired and Gatsby will help to ease their emotions.

Robert Benitez // @Beeb0:

I’m going to say true. This has been a completely different Lakers team since Dr. Buss’s passing and they are playing more motivated than we have ever seen this team play. This past week’s comeback wins over New Orleans and Toronto show how good we can be when motivated and I think it will carry over to playoff ball.

Anna Gonda // @AnnaLBG:

I’m of the belief that anything is possible. If they’re healthy AND motivated AS A TEAM, they can surprise the entire league. You can just never count out a team led by Kobe Bryant.

Jordan Grant // @JordanGrant90:

True- Although this answer is very hit or miss. The way they are playing now, and with the talent this roster has, there is no question this team if healthy has the potential to play with the best in the NBA. The question is which Laker team will show up come playoff time.

Ashkan Kargaran // @Aakargaran:

Two things will make-or-break the Lakers’ playoff dreams this year. The health and reintegration of Pau and the improving health/play of Dwight. Dwight has been playing better as the season progresses and it’s no coincidence that this is happening as his back is becoming stronger. If Pau comes back to the team and the offense stops clicking or the defense gets worse, then there will be too much confusion and no rhythm and in turn the Lakers will not be able to defeat the top WC teams. However, if Pau comes back and provides 30-35 minutes of efficient scoring, rebounding, and playmaking, then the Lakers can play with anybody in the NBA, including Miami.

True or False: A healthy, motivated Lakers team can still compete for the Western Conference title in this years' playoffs.

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Jason Riley is the executive director of LakerNation.com. He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.