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Everyone is once again picking the Lakers to lose series vs. Nuggets

As was the case in the previous two rounds, the Lakers are once again rather unanimously the underdogs against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but nobody believes in the Los Angeles Lakers once again. After knocking off the Warriors in six games when virtually nobody picked them, the same old song and dance is set again as the Lakers as they ready for the Western Conference Finals.

Starting with Vegas and ranging between media and algorithms alike, very, very few people are picking the Lakers to knock off the No. 1 seed. The Nuggets are considered the favorites to win the NBA title, not just the series against the Lakers.

That’s the trend that continues throughout all the predictions.

ESPN media

Beginning again with ESPN, after seeing 11 of the 13 polled ahead of the Warriors-lakers series pick Golden State, only six of the 17 polled for this series picked the Lakers.

Interestingly, nobody is picking this series to be over in fewer than six games, which is indicative of it being a close series. Losing in six would mean the Lakers would lose at home for the first time this series, which is bold. But the Nuggets are the No. 1 team for a reason.


Big shoutout to ESPN BPI, an algorithm we have always fully believed in and definitely have known about for a long time. They didn’t just outright pick the Lakers to beat the Warriors, they predicted the Lakers as 61% favorites to knock off Golden State.

This time around, they aren’t picking the Lakers, but they’re only very barely picking the Nuggets. According to their algorithm, Denver is a 51.7% favorite to make the NBA Finals. Very interestingly, the Celtics are considered the runaway favorites to not just win the East (97%), but the NBA title as well at 73.7%.

Sure would be a shame to see such a heavy favorite bottle this.


Not all algorithms and formulas love the Lakers. FiveThirtyEight did not predict the Lakers to advance past the Warriors and are even more strongly in favor of the Nuggets in this series.

Again, another formula that has the Celtics as the heavy favorites and the Lakers as these plucky underdogs. We’re just a mom-and-pop organization going against the powerful franchises.

CBS Sports

After seeing every person pick the Warriors over the Lakers in the previous round, most of CBS Sports’ writers polled doubled down and picked the Nuggets in this series. Only one of the eight polled picked the Lakers, that being Michael Kaskey-Blomain, who originally picked the Warriors last round.

Here’s his rationale for his choice of Lakers in 7:

I’ve learned not to bet against LeBron James and I’m not going to start now. The fact that the Lakers are even in this position after completely retooling the roster at the trade deadline is impressive, and the team appears to be growing increasingly comfortable as a unit with each passing game. Anthony Davis has been inconsistent this postseason, but when he’s been good, he’s been really good, and if he can channel that level of play for the bulk of the games, the Lakers should have the edge.

Look, we could point out that he bet against the Lakers and LeBron James last round but we’re not that type of blog now are we? We’re just happy someone has decided to side with the underdogs.

This time around, the Lakers do have some more support but they are clear underdogs. And our response to that?

We. Believe.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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