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Reacts: We Believe Lakers head into play-in matchup with Warriors

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Lakers exceptionalism is back — in Los Angeles at least — ahead of the purple and gold’s winner-take-all play-in game vs. the Warriors on Wednesday. Elsewhere? Not so much.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in Los Angeles Lakers fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

Lakers fans have been feeling down in recent weeks, but it seems that all this community needed was the return of a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With those two cornerstones in tow, this plucky seventh seed that barely made it through the season healthy could have a chance against anyone as they look to make a Cinderella-esque run through the Western Conference.

And according to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, that’s exactly how most of you feel, with 94% of Lakers fans confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s up from 65% last week, and a season-low 33% two weeks ago.

Still, the Lakers aren’t the complete mathematical favorites to make it out of this week’s play-in games. Fans around the NBA think the Golden State Warriors have the best chance of advancing beyond the play-in tournament, with 81% believing the team will win one of their games. They are closely followed by the Lakers, however, who 80% of NBA fans believe will win a game.

One of those two teams will punch their ticket Wednesday night, when the Warriors and Lakers play against each other. While it’s not quite a win-or-go-home game, the loser would be put into an extremely dangerous position. Fortunately for LA and Golden State, they have two of the best players in the game in Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

However, if forced to pick between the two, nearly three-fourths of fans believe Curry is more dangerous in an elimination game than James.

This is understandable. It’s not like LeBron has some insane track record of success in elimination games or something. So look, the small-business Lakers, run by Jeanie Buss — the NBA owner with the fifth-lowest net worth in the league — are going up against silicon valley billionaire Joe Lacob’s Warriors, who have the most expensive roster in NBA history. We should just be glad these fearless little underdogs have a chance to be honest.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the first of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament games were played Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics earning the first bid into the playoffs after beating the Washington Wizards. 61% of NBA fans believed the Celtics would advance, falling only behind the Wizards team they beat, which took 78%.

The Indiana Pacers received the least amount of votes, with only 24%, but lived to fight another day after beating the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets loss ended their season, but it’s not the end of exciting times in Charlotte. Point guard LaMelo Ball was picked by 52% of NBA fans as the player who should win the Rookie of the Year award. Ball beat out Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick Anthony Edwards 36% and Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton, who earned 12%.

Wednesday night’s winner between the Lakers and Warriors will decide who plays the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The loser will play for a chance to face off against the Utah Jazz and center Rudy Gobert. The Jazz star was also the top pick among fans — with 49% of the vote — to win Defensive Player of the Year.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.