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In This Year’s NBA Finals, The Reigning Champions Are The Underdogs

Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (May 30, 2017), we discuss the final rounds of both the NBA and NHL playoffs. First, we break down this year’s Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals, discussing how likely the Cavs really are to repeat as champions and whether parity will return to the NBA anytime soon. Next, Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post’s Fancy Stats blog joins us to discuss the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators’ fight for the Stanley Cup. Has Preds’ goaltender Pekka Rinne peaked? Will the Penguins pull off an improbable repeat championship? We investigate. Plus, a significant digit on Mike Trout’s injury.

Here are links to stories we discussed:

  • You can continue checking FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, updated after every game, through the rest of the Finals.
  • Our founder, Nate Silver, wrote this weekend about how LeBron James destroyed our Elo ratings — but can he beat the Warriors again?
  • Guest Neil Greenberg joined our hockey conversation, and he also did this analysis of parity in the NBA and found that until further notice, the NBA is a two-team league.
  • This year’s Stanley Cup Final is between the title holders and the league’s trendiest team, according to The Ringer’s Katie Baker.
  • FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine argues that the march of the Pittsburgh Penguins to another Stanley Cup victory shouldn’t be this difficult.
  • Significant Digit: 2.2, the projected number of wins above replacement that Sunday’s injury to Mike Trout will cost the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout will be out for six to eight weeks.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Kate Fagan is a writer for espnW and a regular panelist on the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown.

Chadwick Matlin was a deputy managing editor at FiveThirtyEight.