Mar 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) grabs his ankle before coming out of the game at the end of the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 96-92. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Could Kobe's Injury Change the Western Conference Playoff Picture?

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As luck would have it, Kobe Bryant injured his ankle today and is declared out indefinitely. This is really bad for the Lakers, who are looking to make a playoff push.

For the Warriors, Jazz, and the Rockets, however, this is best news ever! In the Lakers’ loss to the Hawks today, Kobe Bryant needed help to get off the court, a sad sign for all NBA fans, but a happy one for some NBA teams.

The Lakers can win without Bryant, but psychologically, it’s not that easy. Without the superstar of the team, the Lakers are in one of the most precarious positions. They’re holding the 8th spot in the west, but the Jazz are very close to catching up. The Rockets are in 7th place and looking to maintain that spot, and the Warriors are in 6th place, and gaining some separation. Still, there’s fear that the Lakers could usurp all the spots.

With Kobe going out, this could change the 2013 playoff picture. Maybe the Jazz will be there when they’re not supposed to.

“At the end of the day, Kobe will likely return to his team and play better than ever,” the average Laker fan would say.

Judging by the degree of his ankle sprain, I don’t think he’s going to come back and play in the next couple of weeks. While he is one of the strongest players I’ve ever seen, he cannot play through something like this. What he needs to do is rest it.

The Warriors are also affected psychologically by this because now they have more confidence. Having won their last two games at home, they’re starting to gain some momentum, and looking to attack every team hard, no matter who it is.

With this news, they will surely play as hard, but there is now no fear of being taken over as the 6th seed. The Rockets are catching up, but I don’t think they have what it takes to steal the sixth spot from the Dubs. With the way that the Lakers were rolling, they could have moved significantly up the standings and pushed each team back.

Nothing is set in stone, but the Warriors now have some breathing space knowing that Kobe is out indefinitely. They will likely continue their playoff push and stay in the sixth seed, unless Kobe comes back. Still, the Dubs would be lucky to play the Clippers in the first round, their fairly new rivals.

This article is not intended to celebrate Kobe’s injury. We here at Golden Gate Sports wish him a speedy recovery, and the best of luck to the Lakers in his absence.

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Tags: Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Utah Jazz

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