The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the post-season where they belong. However, it will be no easy task in the first round as they are set to do battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and Bubble MVP Damian Lillard.
Basketball Society’s podcast series the ‘Lakers Lair’ was honored to have special guest Ryan Rosback, who reports for the Blazer’s Edge, join in on an episode to preview the series that is sure to draw a lot of attention.
Regular Season Outcomes
Los Angeles and Portland had three regular season meetings, with the Lakers taking two of those games and one in resounding fashion (a 136-113 Lakers win). The lone Trail Blazers win came after the sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant and an astonish 48 point performance from Lillard.
When dissecting playoff series, regular season match-ups might as well be scraped away due several factors. The first being the roster changes for both sides with several players being either being added or dropped in the rotation from the last time these two played.
Since these two teams last faced on January 31st, the Lakers lost key starter and their best perimeter defender in Avery Bradley who opted to not join the Lakers in the bubble.
They were able to add play-makers and shot-takers in Dion Waiters and JR Smith.
Portland would lose veteran wing and pesky defender in Trevor Ariza as he too would opt out of the restart. However, they would get back big man Jusuf Nurkic who has looked every bit of the player that he was before his horrific leg injury.
With that all said, lets dive into the match-up with the biggest question for the Lakers being answered by Kirkland, ‘How do they stop Lillard?’
“It’s Going to have to be by committee, There is no one player that can defend the bubble mvp one on one,” stateD Kirkland. “What the Lakers are gonna have to do is invite Lillard inside the paint against (JaVale) McGee, (Anthony) Davis, and Dwight Howard and trust their paInt defense.” – Justin Kirkland
We all know what the superstars will do in this series. LeBron James will ultimately leave his fingerprints in every facet of the game, Davis will be a force on both ends of the court down low, and Lillard and McCollum will shoot the rock with supreme confidence.
Majority of the time in playoff contests it is the role players stepping up in key games and key moments to prove they can be the x-factor. King provides analysis as to who he believes can and will be the x-factor for the entire series.
“(rajon) Rondo and (dion) waiters are going to be more pivotal as far as being that x-factor in this series,” stated King. “If they can play consistent basketball especially with waiters coming off the bench and you hit an offensive snag with the starters we’ve seen waiters step in and be productive getting to the hole and get the offense going.” – Randy King
With all the match-ups analyzed and discussed among these three, it was Rosback who surprised us all with his series prediction.
“I’ve been around long enough not to doubt dame when he has that look in his eye coupled with how this is the weirdest playoffs we’ve seen,” Rosback added. “If there is a shot for an eight seed to upset everybody and pick off a one seed, i think its now so I have Blazers in seven.” – Ryan Rosback
Expect nothing less from a man supporting his team. Here’s hoping to all of Lakers nation that it doesn’t happen.
Hear what King and Kirkland had to add as well as their prediction for the series in the link below.