NBA legend Charles Barkley predicted on Thursday that if the Portland Trail Blazers capture the eighth seed for the upcoming NBA Playoffs, they will beat the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Barkley shared his take on the latest Inside the NBA:
“If the Portland Trail Blazers get in the playoffs, they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.”
This continues a recent trend of Barkley supporting the Blazers. Last month he picked Portland as a sleeper title contender:
“The one team in the Western Conference, if they get Nurkic back and Zach Collins, nobody’s going to want to see the Portland Trail Blazers. They got, arguably — other than Klay and Steph — the best backcourt in the NBA. Whiteside’s been playing pretty good all year. But if they get Nurkic and Zach Collins back, nobody’s going to want to see the Portland Trail Blazers.”
The Lakers, while led by two MVP candidates in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, have suffered two recent losses to their depth chart in Avery Bradley (opted out of restart) and Rajon Rondo (fractured thumb, out 6-8 weeks). They currently lead the second seed Los Angeles Clippers by 5.5 games for the top seed in the West.
The Blazers enter the season restart 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. A play-in tournament will be triggered if the ninth seed finishes within four games of the eighth seed at the end of the initial eight-game schedule. In that scenario, the ninth seed will need to win two straight matchups to advance to the playoffs, while the eighth seed would only need one victory to seal a playoff berth.
NBA games are scheduled to resume on July 30 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.