Despite mixed feelings and thoughts from players and pundits alike, the NBA restart began in full earnest at the end of July and now has entered the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers were among the 22 teams invited to the Walt Disney World bubble, resuming the season with the same championship expectations that were in place prior to the NBA hiatus. They have been predicted to win the championship by various panels and pundits at various points this season.
It was a massive shift from preseason projections that had the Lakers as the fourth-best team in the league, behind fellow contenders in the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers. While the ESPN forecast recently had the Lakers as the favorite it win it all, it appears their real plus-minus (RPM) formula does not agree via ESPN:
Milwaukee Bucks: 42.5%
Los Angeles Lakers: 19.9%
Toronto Raptors: 12.2%
LA Clippers: 9.3%
Boston Celtics: 7.8%
The Bucks were a popular pick to make it out of the Eastern Conference as Giannis Antetokounmpo raised his game to another level and will most likely come away with his second consecutive NBA MVP Award. They also boasted one of the most potent offenses and suffocating defensive units in the league, a good indicator for any contender.
The Lakers’ odds may have been affected after Avery Bradley announced he is sitting out the remainder of the season in order to care for his family and focus on the social movement that is ongoing across the country.
Although the Lakers signed JR Smith to make up for the loss of Bradley, his loss hurts their guard rotation but in turn does open up more minutes for Caruso who has become an integral part of Frank Vogel’s lineups.
Lakers off to rough start in playoffs
Returning to the playoffs after a seven-year drought did not begin as the Lakers had hoped. Defense largely kept Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in check, but breakdowns in the fourth quarter allowed both to get loose as the Portland Trail Blazers pulled off an upset in Game 1.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!