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Why Our Model (Still) Hates The Lakers
FiveThirtyEight
 

First, we answer the call put out by Shannon Sharpe on Fox Sports’ “Undisputed.” Not the call to bet $100,000 over our model’s projection that the Lakers will finish ninth in the NBA’s Western Conference — that far exceeds our humble podcast’s budget — but the call to explain why our model doesn’t see the Lakers in contention to win. The answer is pretty simple, too” The Lakers, as a team, are old, they have injury concerns, and the supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis just isn’t that great. Now, if the two of them do stay healthy and figure out a way to click with Russell Westbrook, they could be very dangerous indeed. Our model doesn’t preclude the Lakers making a run in the postseason; in fact, their odds improve because, as you may know, LeBron tends to play well in the playoffs. The team our model may actually be sleeping on is the Warriors: We give them only a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs for the similar reason of relying on another aging superstar, Steph Curry. But this season may be an interesting test of just how much a game-breaking player like Steph or LeBron can move the needle.

Next, we turn to the baseball playoffs and talk about how the Dodgers just need to chill out. It’s understandable that they threw their entire pitching staff and all of their pitching staff’s kitchen sinks at the wild-card game and the series against the Giants, but the strain was showing in their first two games against the Braves, and we think they need to take a moment to catch their breath. They absolutely can still win from behind, especially if their hitting improves. The Braves have had a bunch of small things break their way, which is certainly to their credit. But it does make sense that while the Dodgers only have 36 percent chance of making the World Series, they still have a 28 percent chance of winning it. Over in the ALCS, we talk about the various ways cheaters have prospered. A lot of this series has come down to Boston being an extremely streaky team that is having an exceptionally streaky moment (among other kinds of moments). But the Astros pitching hasn’t impressed this series, and we think they really need to find some of their old form and/or some trash cans if they hope to advance.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

Related: How Carmelo Anthony Can Help The Lakers Read more. »

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil celebrates the Seattle Kraken winning their first franchise game by exploring how long it’s taken expansion teams in hockey and other sports to record a W. For the expansion-happy NHL, it turns out the Kraken are on pace to be pretty normal. (No one, it seems, can be the Vegas Golden Knights, who won their first two games in a row.) Seattle won the second game of its history, putting it ahead of teams like the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes. And although the Kraken are still searching for a second win, they seem likely to get it faster than the Ottawa Senators, who tanked before tanking was a thing and didn’t score a second until Game 23.  

What we’re looking at this week: 


We used math to help LeBron cast ‘Space Jam 2’

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.

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