With their tough loss to the San Antonio Spurs Monday night at home, the Los Angeles Lakers are now 0-3 on the young season, and history says they face an uphill battle to make the postseason.

The Lakers and Spurs went back and forth at the end of regulation. The Spurs were up three with under seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Lakers superstar LeBron James then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key right in the face of Spurs forward Rudy Gay to send the game into overtime. Staples Center was buzzing and Laker Nation was feeling good about themselves.

Those positive vibes didn’t last long, though. After two missed free throws by James with the Lakers up one in overtime, Spurs guard Patty Mills hit a jumper to put San Antonio up one. LeBron then missed a step-back jump shot at the buzzer, sending the Staples Center crowd home in a down mood.

Before the season even began, some pundits weren’t high on the Lakers’ chances of making the postseason in the rugged Western Conference. It’s an odd roster in L.A., considering James is surrounded by a lot of young players and guys who don’t really fit well next to him.

LeBron James, Magic Johnson

After James signed with the Lakers in July, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka added Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley. Rondo and Stephenson aren’t good jump shooters, a trait players often need when playing next to James because he’s a cerebral passer and able to find shooters when he collapses the paint on his drives to the basket. It’s probably fair to say, though, that there won’t be much floor spacing for the Lakers when Rondo, Stephenson and James are playing together.

Sure, second-year guard Lonzo Ball looks to have improved his 3-point stroke, but will he be consistent enough to where opposing teams will hound him on the perimeter when James is driving to the hoop? LeBron is at his best when he has floor spacers around him. It allows him to get to the paint with ease. One of the reasons James was so successful with Cleveland Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Korver was James could drive on the side Korver was on because he knew Korver’s defender wouldn’t leave the sniper open for 3, thus creating an easier driving lane to the basket.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have been putrid on defense though three games. They are giving up 109.6 points per game, which ranks 25th in the league. Opponents are shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. It’s a long season, and the Lakers have the potential to be a middle-of-the-pack defensive team, but that will only happen if James shows the young guys how to play proper defense. There have already been multiple instances of LeBron jogging back on defense or not closing out on shooters. As the leader of the team, The King can’t do that.

So, how tough is it going to be for LeBron to guide this Lakers team to the playoffs after the 0-3 start? Over the last five seasons, 28 teams have started 0-3. Only six of those clubs have made the postseason.

The 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks started their season 0-4, but they finished with a record of 67-15. Dirk Nowitzki averaged 24.6 points per game that season. The Philadelphia 76ers started 0-3 last season and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, the West is way more competitive than the East.

Let’s assume it takes 47 wins to get into the playoffs this season in the Western Conference. The top teams in the conference will likely be the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. The Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Spurs, in no particular order, are viewed as potential playoff teams.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have also started the season 0-3, but star point guard Russell Westbrook missed the first two games of the season. Odds are they will turn it around and make the postseason again.

We also can’t forget about Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s way too early to tell, but the Pelicans look like a vastly improved team from last season, and New Orleans swept the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2018 playoffs.

Then you have the Minnesota Timberwolves, a huge wild card. Jimmy Butler has requested a trade, but that was almost six weeks ago. Timberwolves head coach/president Tom Thibodeau doesn’t appear to want to move Butler, but owner Glen Taylor does. Depending on what kind of haul Minnesota gets for Butler, it’s tough to say if they’ll be a playoff team. If Butler stays, however, they can definitely make it again.

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LeBron James, Lakers

Add in the Lakers, and that’s 10 teams fighting for eight spots, barring outside surprises like the LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies or even the Dallas Mavericks.

If the Lakers do miss the playoffs, it would be James’ first missed postseason since the 2004-05 season, when his Cavs fell short despite James averaging more than 27 points per game as a 20-year-old. Betting against the best player in the world is never a good idea.

However, James turns 34 in December. How many more years does he have left of being the best player on the planet? He has played in eight straight NBA Finals, and while he’s built like Superman, the wear and tear of all those games may eventually catch up to James.

It’s still early and the Lakers have plenty of time to get right, starting with a Wednesday night game against the lowly Phoenix Suns. But in this tough conference, the Lakers can’t get themselves in too big a hole.