Now that the NBA All-Star Game is behind us, twenty-five games remain in the Lakers' regular season, starting Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. To get a sense of how treacherous is the road ahead for Kobe Bryant and friends, I've taken a close look at the schedule and sliced and diced it along various dimensions. The "takeaway," as one hears in the business world, is that the homestretch is going to be taxing. The Lakers' remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .551. Ten of the 25 games are against teams with a winning percentage over 0.600. Just four of the games are against below-.400 squads. At least the remaining slate tilts homeward: 14 of the Lakers' last 25 contests will be at Staples Center.
Here's what else you need to know:
Back-to-Backs: The Lakers' have four back-to-back sets left. The first comes this week, when they travel to Portland on Tuesday night after the Hawks game to visit the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. They then go over a month without another back-to-back before closing with three in the last two weeks. Five Laker opponents will themselves be playing on the second night of a back-to-back when they face the champs.
Most Frequent Opponent: The Trail Blazers, who have to tussle with the Lake Show three times between now and the end of the season. Other teams the Lakers will face twice are the Hawks, Timberwolves, Clippers, Mavericks, Jazz, Thunder and Spurs.
Toughest Stretch: March 6 through March 14. This punishing nine-day march starts with a four-game road swing through San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas and concludes with a visit to Staples by the Orlando Magic.
Easiest Stretch: March 18 through March 27. Five home games against, in order: the wretched Timberwolves, a Trail Blazers team that will have played the night before, the Suns, the Clippers and the Hornets, an opponent the Lakers have owned the past couple years and have already beaten three times this season.
My Off-The-Cuff Prediction: Eighteen wins and seven losses, which would put the Lakers at 56-26 to end the regular season and, in all likelihood, find them neck-and-neck with Dallas for the second seed in the West.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.