Twenty-nine games left. Eleven at home, 18 on the road.
The Kings need to go 17-12 to get to .500, presumably the lowball measure of what it'll take to get into the playoffs as the eighth seed.
It's obvious the team will have to win some games it shouldn't be winning. But the number of how many those games necessary for .500 is actually outstanding.
Using a win probability method outlined by the great Ed Kupfer on the APBRmetric forum, I crunched the remaining schedule to see how many games the Kings can be reasonably expected to win.
Kupfer's formula factors in three things: winning percentages for both teams, days of rest for both teams and a standard home court advantage figure. (Kupfer actually uses Pythagorean win percentage, which uses point differential instead of actual wins and losses, to figure for the varying quality of teams. I think pure winning percentage works fine for my purposes, though.)
What the formula calculates is the probability of a given team winning a game. For instance, the Kings play the Golden State Warriors tonight in Sacramento. The Kings have a winning percentage of .453, and the Warriors have a win percentage of .462. Both teams are on at least five days of rest. Given the NBA standard home court advantage of 0.6 (the home team will beat an equally matched away team 60% on the time), the Kings have a 62.27% probability of winning the game.
I ran this for the Kings' remaining schedule. Adding up the probabilities, the Kings are expected to win 12 of the 29 remaining games. In 10 games, the Kings' probability of winning is 50% or greater. In 12 of the games, the Kings' probability of winning is 45% or greater. In 13 of the games, the Kings' probability of winning is 40% or greater.
This, obviously, isn't encouraging. If the Kings won all the games they would be statistically expected to win, plus all the iffy games that the opponents would have up to a 60% probability of winning, the Kings would still be four games short of .500, and presumably a shot at the playoffs.
Well, not so fast.
The numbers above factor in the Kings' winning percentage for the entire season to date. The Kings, of course, have been a much different team over the last 11 games. It has to do with some infamous defensive-minded dude that wears airbrushed sneakers.
Using the Artest era win percentage (.545) instead, things look slightly better.
Adding up the probabilities using the Artest figure, the Kings are expected to win 14.8 of the 29 remaining games. In 13 games, the Kings' probability of winning is 50% or greater. In 16 of the games, the Kings' probability of winning is 45% or greater. In 20 of the games, the Kings' probability of winning is 40% or greater.
So by winning the games they are supposed to, along with about 25% of the games they aren't supposed to win, the Kings can get to .500.
Whether that gets them to the playoffs is another story. Beating other chasers, like the Warriors, sure helps that cause.