Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Series: 1-0, Portland)
Thursday, August 20 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Trevor Ariza (opted out), Caleb Swanigan (opted out), Zach Collins (out), Nassir Little (out)
Lakers injuries: Avery Bradly (opted out), Rajon Rondo (doubtful), LeBron James (probable), Anthony Davis (probable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, ESPN (or check out Fubo for your streaming needs)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll
The Trail Blazers head into Game 2 of the first round with a win under their belt. As the eighth seed against the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s a good place to be. Portland has fought tooth and nail for their place in the playoffs, and they aren’t slowing down. Despite some struggles in Game 1, the Blazers pulled off a win against all odds.
What to watch for
- Which Whiteside will we see? Will we see the Hassan Whiteside who seems to lose his energy and motivation and disengage, or will we see the Whiteside from Tuesday’s game who is a massive presence on the court and comes out ready to fight for a win? You could argue that Whiteside was the MVP for the Blazers in Game 1, outside of Damian Lillard. If he can hold on to that fire and energy, Whiteside will help add to the Trail Blazers’ size and defense.
- Wenyen Gabriel. Do I need any more description? The young forward was tossed into a starting lineup of the first round of the NBA playoffs. There was suddenly so much pressure for someone relatively new to the league. But with Collins injured, he showed up in a massive way. If Gabriel can continue to perform in the capacity that he did in Game 1, he will be a huge asset to Portland.
- The Lakers Star Power. LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The two biggest problems for the Trail Blazers. James has reportedly struggled to adjust to bubble play, leaving Los Angeles vulnerable to the Trail Blazers sneaking in and taking the series. Davis seemed to struggle with the Blazers’ length in Game 1. It remains to be seen if the Lakers will be able to make changes and pull it together or if Portland will pull off another win against the one seed.
What they’re saying
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports talks about the Lakers’ struggles from the 3-point line, and how it’s only gotten worse since entering the bubble.
The Lakers weren’t a good 3-point shooting team this season. They were 26th in the league at 32.6 percent when play was suspended in March. But in the last nine games, which include the eight seeding games and the opening playoff game, they’re dead last at 28.6 percent.
Sam Quinn of CBS sports argues that a change to the Lakers’ starting lineup is necessary.
This isn’t rocket science. The Lakers are starting every game down several points because they’re starting the wrong lineup. They’re exacerbating the problem by sending that same lineup out there at the start of the third quarter. The version of the starting lineup that included Avery Bradley outscored opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. The version with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions. The McGee-Caldwell-Pope-James-Davis-Danny Green fivesome doesn’t work.
The Lakers are struggling without the crowds to hype them up. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes about James and the team’s struggle in the bubble.
It’s clear, and James has hinted about this for a couple of weeks, but the Lakers miss the momentum generated by the great Staples Center fans. On the first day of the postseason, there’s no place like the corner of 11th and Figueroa. The crowds show up early. They puff out their chests and claim their turf and spend the next two months making life miserable for all who dare visit.