The Portland Trail Blazers could be a real threat to the no. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Windhorst notes that the Lakers may not be at an advantage after all, given the Blazers’ performance in the seeding games. According to Windhorst’s sources, experience and Damian Lillard make a crucial difference for the Blazers.
“[The Blazers] have defensive issues, which is a reason they are the 8-[seed] at the end of the day,” one league scout said. “From an overall talent and experience standpoint, they are probably a 4- or 5-seed masquerading as an 8.”
Said one Eastern Conference coach: “They’re just a team that scares you because of Lillard. When you’re the top seed, you don’t like the idea of being scared in the first round.”
Windhorst mentions that the Blazers have had extra time to return both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins to the court, which is also to their advantage. On the other hand, the Lakers are facing the loss of home court advantage: according to Windhorst, LeBron James has struggled to get his head in the right place in the bubble.
“It’s a totally different situation than any other situation I’ve been in in my career,” James said earlier this month. “I have zero experience with having the No. 1 seed inside of a bubble ... so this is all a learning experience for all of us.”
You can read more here. The Blazers face the Lakers on Tuesday, August 18th, at 6pm.