Remember when the Trail Blazers entered the 2020 NBA playoffs as the greatest No. 8 seed of all time? And when they beat the Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round series, setting the stage for an improbable sweep?
Ah, yes. What a time that was.
Unfortunately for several prisoners of the moment, the Lakers captured victories in the next four games to advance to the Western Conference semifinals. Los Angeles won each of those games by at least eight points behind consistent greatness from LeBron James (27.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 10.2 assists per game) and Anthony Davis (29.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game).
After the Lakers closed out the series on Saturday night, The Athletic’s Ryan Cole compiled some of the wildest predictions and biggest overreactions made by national analysts.
— Charles Barkley: “If the Portland Trail Blazers get in the playoffs, they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.”
Barkley later doubled down on his assertion, saying the Trail Blazers would sweep the Lakers if they won Game 1. Incorrect!
— Colin Cowherd: “I am picking Portland to beat the Lakers.”
You shouldn’t have!
— Stephen A. Smith: “I’m not gonna go so far as to say, ‘It’s a foregone conclusion (the Lakers will) lose.’ But they could. And here’s the prediction I will make: That particular series would go seven games.”
It did not go seven games!
— Emmanuel Acho: “I look at the totality of the Trail Blazers, and I think that the Lakers will be in big, big trouble.”
The Lakers were not in big trouble!
— Emmanuel Acho, again: “The Blazers have a better roster.”
The Blazers do not have LeBron James and Anthony Davis!
— Paul Pierce: “I’m concerned about the Lakers. I’m concerned. They may go down in history as the third team to lose to an eighth seed in the first round.”
They did not!
In the interest of full transparency, Sporting News offered picks for every first-round series prior to the start of the playoffs. The Trail Blazers-Lakers prediction: Los Angeles wins, 4-1. Nailed it.
Just don’t look at the rest of the series. It’s safe to assume every prediction turned out to be 100 percent accurate.
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