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Lakers vs. Warriors prediction: Bet on Golden State to save its season

Lay the big points with the Warriors, who will survive with a convincing Game 5 win at home

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors find themselves down 3-1 in their best-of-7 NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Curry and the Warriors are big favorites in Wednesday’s must-win Game 5 at home. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors find themselves down 3-1 in their best-of-7 NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Curry and the Warriors are big favorites in Wednesday’s must-win Game 5 at home. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Read moreHarry How / Getty Images

The last time the Golden State Warriors lost a Western Conference playoff series, this year’s high school seniors were finishing up third grade.

The year was 2014. The Warriors’ coach was Mark Jackson. And the team that knocked them out was the Doc Rivers-led Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of an opening-round series.

Since then, Golden State — under coach Steve Kerr — has swatted down 19 consecutive Western Conference foes (on the way to winning four NBA titles).

That streak is in serious jeopardy, as the Warriors find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having their backs pressed firmly against the wall as two words echo in their heads: must win.

With their season on life support and zero margin for error, the defending champions get their first crack at fending off elimination to the Lakers Wednesday night.

Will Golden State live to play another day and avoid their first three-game playoff losing skid since blowing a 3-1 series lead to Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals?

Oddsmakers believe so, as the Warriors are a big home favorite in Game 5. Too big? Not from our vantage point.

Odds updated as of 10:15 a.m. ET on May 10.

Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction

  1. Warriors -7.5 (at FanDuel)

  2. Note: Stick with this bet up to Warriors -8

Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction: Analysis

Prior to Game 4 on Monday, we pointed out a pretty cut-and-dried trend involving the L.A. Lakers and this year’s playoffs.

That trend: Beginning with a play-in victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers had posted two wins followed by one loss three different times.

So with Los Angeles following up a Game 2 blowout defeat at Golden State with a Game 3 blowout victory at home, the pattern suggested that the Lakers were due to prevail in Game 4.

That’s precisely what they did. And yet we went the other way with our wagering recommendation, backing the Warriors on the belief that Los Angeles star Anthony Davis would continue his own personal trend of following up stellar performances with head-scratching clunkers.

» READ MORE: Sixers now among NBA title favorites after Game 5 win in Boston

The Davis trend died on the vine Monday, as he collected 23 points and 15 rebounds in helping Los Angeles to a come-from-behind 104-101 victory as a 2-point home favorite.

Not only did Davis rise to the occasion, but so did LeBron James (27 points, nine rebounds), Austin Reaves (21 points) and little-used reserve guard Lonnie Walker IV, who delivered all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter.

So for a fourth time in these playoffs, the Lakers have completed that aforementioned win two/lose one pattern.

Not only that, but after alternating spread-covers in its first three postseason contests, Los Angeles has posted the following ATS results in the last eight games: W, W, L, W, W, L, W, W.

Is it possible these are just quirky, completely random, small-sample-size trends? Not only possible, but probable.

However, there are a couple of nuggets worth examining.

First, while the Lakers closed the regular season on a 6-1 SU/4-3 ATS run, they haven’t won three straight games in these playoffs. More to the point, each time they’ve posted consecutive wins, they’ve gotten throttled in their next game.

And each time, the lopsided loss happened on the road.

L.A. lost Games 2 and 6 at Memphis by scores of 103-93 and 116-99. Then after stealing the series opener against Golden State eight days ago, the Lakers got pummeled 127-100 in Game 2.

Likewise, the Warriors had followed up their previous three playoff losses with three dominant victories of 17 points against Sacramento in Game 3; 20 points against Sacramento in Game 7; and 27 points in the Game 2 rout of L.A.

Then came Monday night.

Golden State appeared poised to answer a 30-point Game 3 loss to the Lakers with another convincing bounce-back victory. But the Warriors squandered a 12-point third quarter lead.

As a result, they now find themselves in must-win mode. And against a team that is bigger and stronger.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

However, this is hardly Golden State’s first brush with postseason adversity — heck, Steph Curry and Co. dealt with it just 10 days ago when they closed out Sacramento with that 20-point Game 7 win.

That was on the road, where the Warriors rarely excelled this season.

The story has been different at home, with Golden State winning 36 of 46 games on its own turf. That 36-10 SU record comes with an NBA-best 29-17 ATS mark.

OK, so the Warriors are just 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS in their own gym in these playoffs. But none of those were elimination games.

The bottom line is Golden State, with Curry leading the way, has displayed the heart of a champion time and again over the last nine years. And we expect nothing less Tuesday night.

We also expect nothing more than a lackluster effort from the Lakers — similar to what we saw in Game 5 of the Memphis series, when L.A. slept-walked through that 116-99 defeat as a 4.5-point underdog.

Could another 17-point Game 5 loss be in the cards for the Lakers on Wednesday at Golden State? We’re certainly betting on it.

Lakers vs. Warriors Odds (via FanDuel):

  1. Point spread: Lakers (-7.5) @ Warriors (+7.5)

  2. Moneyline: Lakers (+260) @ Warriors (-335)

  3. Total: 226 points

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.