4/18/2007: By winning their final game of the season, the Lakers decided their playoff fate. They own the tiebreaker with the Warriors so they will face the Suns again in the first round, avoiding the top seeded Mavericks.
Suns and Lakers will repeat the first round of the 2005-2006 playoffs. In that opportunity the Lakers, against all odds, took a 3-1 lead, but then were blown out by Phoenix
The Lakers don't arrive to the playoffs in their best shape but at least they are mostly healthy after a season in which they lost a total of 228 man-games to injury: Chris Mihm (82 games), Kwame Brown (41 games), Lamar Odom (26), Vladimir Radmanovic (24), Luke Walton (22), Aaron McKie (10), Brian Cook (9), Maurice Evans (5), Ronny Turiaf (4), Kobe Bryant (3) and Jordan Farmar (2).
The Lakers also have the NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant, who had an amazing year with 10 50-point games. Still it doesn't look enough to defeat Phoenix, but it's what they have. The running Suns have a much, much deeper roster and a reinforced interior presence with the return of Amare Stoudemire who was absent last year.
Another thing to consider is that not happy with Smush Parker Phil Jackson started rookie Jordan Farmar at point guard in the final 2 games of the season. It doesn't look like the best moment for the change but it's not that the team is playing great, so the end result is to be seen. Parker's fate for next season is almost sealed with this (he's out) but other Lakers --Luke Walton, Kwame Brown, Andrew Bynum among them-- will also have to prove they can dress the Laker uniform or will end up somewhere else via free agency or trades.