How the Warriors sandbagged the NBA’s top prediction model

How the Warriors sandbagged the NBA's top prediction model

The Warriors came into this postseason as an unknown. Klay Thompson only played once the calendar flipped to 2022, Draymond Green dealt with an injury that kept him out for two months, and then Steph Curry missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a foot injury.

In all, the Warriors were a sub-.500 team after the All-Star Game and entered the postseason without a set rotation, momentum, or any sort of continuity on both sides of the court.

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So of course they reached the NBA Finals.

Now that Golden State is in a sixth NBA Finals in eight years and sits four wins away from a fourth title, there are plenty of believers in the Warriors once again.

The wise guys in the desert — or, more accurately, the bookies pushing odds to your phone in certain states — love the Warriors to win the title, regardless of the opponent.

In fact, after Boston lost a series-clinching game at home against Miami on Friday night, pushing the Western Conference Finals to a Game 7, it seems as if everyone — not just the bettors — is in on the Dubs.

But the computers remain skeptical.

Ok, it’s only one computer I know about, but there could be more out there. Cyberspace is vast.

By now, you might have seen a screenshot or heard tell of the website FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictive model. They call it RAPTOR — who cares why? — and as of Saturday morning, says that the Warriors, despite being in the NBA Finals and being the odds-on favorites to win the title, have only a 29 percent chance of winning the series.

Twenty-nine percent?

Surely they must be joking.

(Did I do a good job faking outrage there?)

That Golden State title percentage — which has risen from as low as 7 percent in recent weeks — has become a bit of an internet meme. It’s been tossed around so much — paired with the necessary outrage, of course (it’s the internet, after all) — that it could make someone believe that these Warriors are the second-coming of the We Believe team.

Well, I’m sorry to say that these Dubs are no underdogs.

No, Golden State was, instead, a team that had only played up to its full potential for a few moments — a few games at the absolute most — this season.

And it’s now fair to say that the Warriors are playing somewhere close to that level as they await their NBA Finals opponent. Things changed for the Warriors.

The model remained the same.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 26: Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) celebrates after winning the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, May 26, 2022. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 120-110.  (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MAY 26: Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) celebrates after winning the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, May 26, 2022. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 120-110. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
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