To call the Lakers an underdog would be quite the understatement heading into the second round of the playoffs. Almost unanimously across the NBA, Golden State is the favorite.
Whether the media, coaches, executives, scouts, algorithms, whatever it may be, the Warriors are the heavy favorites. Even Las Vegas is favoring the Warriors.
While it’s become a meme, now is truly the time for the #WeBelieve Lakers...against the Warriors of all teams.
Here’s a look at some relevant predictions heading into the series.
Let’s start off with ESPN, which actually was most favorable to the Lakers of anybody or anywhere. And that’s certainly relative.
Of the 13 media members polled, only Dave McMenamin and Andre Snellings picked the Lakers over the Warriors.
Now, nearly half of those polled picked the Warriors in seven games, which is basically little more than a toss-up. But we’re not adding nuance to this. We’re playing the underdog card.
The only place to outright pick the Lakers is ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), which is an algorithm that I certainly have always believed in. Explained as an algorithm that “accounts for game-by-game efficiency, strength of schedule, pace, days of rest, game location and preseason expectations,” BPI pretty heavily picks the Lakers.
We’ll ignore them giving the New York Knicks a better shot at winning an NBA title over the Lakers and simply say we definitely agree with their well-respected formula.
In lieu of polls with their media or algorithms, The Athletic went the route of interviewing anonymous scouts, executives and coaches. And while the promise of anonymity brings out some wild takes, all three picked the Warriors in the upcoming series.
“The Lakers are a different team (since the trade deadline), and they’re a better team. But the Warriors look like they’ve got their mojo back. They’ve got their confidence. They’re cohesive. All their stuff is behind them, seemingly. (Andrew) Wiggins is back playing well and confidently. … I know they went to seven games (against the Kings) and easily could’ve lost the series. But they were down 0-2 and won four out of five; that’s pretty good against a very good team ….”
Another algorithm-based prediction, this one from FiveThirtyEight. Their ongoing NBA predictions have the Lakers at a 40% chance to move on.
This one at least has the Knicks on the far opposite end of the spectrum. It also has the Lakers as a more likely team to reach and win the NBA Finals than the Suns.
Rounding it out is another unanimous selection against the Lakers as all seven of those polled by CBS Sports picked the Warriors.
For those keeping track at home, of the 27 predictions listed above, 24 of them went in favor of the Warriors. Many of them cited the Warriors figuring things out after Game 7, in which Steph Curry scored 50 points and the rest of the team shot 23-62 (37%) from the field.
That’s because it’s just too hard to see the underdog Lakers who are outmatched and overpowered from winning this series.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.