The Lakers lost 16 games last year where they had fourth quarter leads or were tied in the last minute. Unless they have a lot of injuries, there’s no way they will win less than 47 games. I think they will win 50 and push for every game because the young guys will be too hungry.
Aside from the extra money to be made in the playoffs, it makes no difference if the Lakers play the Warriors in the second or third round. Maybe playing them in the first round would make the young guys too nervous, but I doubt it as the team will be under the microscope the entire year.