Contrary to the media hype, the Portland Trail Blazers are the perfect team for the Los Angeles Lakers to meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs and will be lucky to avoid a sweep and win even one game in the series.
Here are the four reasons why the first round playoff series between the Lakers and the Blazers will not live up to the hype and why Los Angeles should easily burst Portland’s bubble and end their Cinderella season:
1. Midnight Has Come for Cinderella.
The Blazers have been living on borrowed time. They were long shots at the start of the bubble to make it to the #9 seed, lost a game they should won when Dame missed two free throws, and survived two last second thrillers. They rode their great guard duo of Lillard and McCollum to the #8 seed and then edging the undermanned Grizzlies to earn the right to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, a dubious honor that’s likely to end badly.
The reality is the Blazers are still just another #8 seed who’s going to be quickly dispatched by the #1 seed as has happened sixty-six out of seventy-two times since the NBA started matching #8 and #1 seeds in the playoffs.
2. Blazers Are a Poor Defensive Team.
The Blazers may be able to outscore lottery teams like the Grizzlies but they aren’t a good enough defensive team to upset an elite top seed like the Los Angeles Lakers who boast a pair of top five superstars in LeBron and AD. The Blazers’ #3 offense will be lucky to steal a game from the Lakers #3 defense and Portland’s #27 defense will get shredded by LA’s offense, which was top-5 before slipping to #11 after meaningless bubble games.
Dame may be the bubble MVP and the Blazers the media darlings but defense wins championships and the Lakers’ elite D will handcuff the Blazers offense while their offense crushes Portland’s porous defense.
3. Matchups Strongly Favor Lakers.
While Lillard and McCollum clearly have an edge over the Lakers’ guards, neither of them are capable of consistently dominating NBA games the way Lakers’ top-five superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are able to do. Los Angeles not only has the two best players in the series in James and Davis but also a deeper and more talented veteran roster than Portland, especially on defense with elite shot blockers like McGee and Howard.
The NBA is a matchup league and as good as Dame and CJ are, they’re not in the same class as LeBron and AD. who have long histories of feasting on Portland’s defense, as do Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, and Rajon Rondo.
4. Lakers Are Primed for Challenge.
All the media attention and hype about the Blazers excelling and the Lakers struggling in the bubble ignore the simple fact that the Blazers were playing to stay alive while the Lakers had already clinched the top seed in the west. The pundits predicting the underdog Blazers upsetting the favored Lakers are playing right into LeBron James hands. They forget James is the master at transforming allegedly disrespectful press into challenge and motivation.
Now that the playoffs have started and the games finally count, expect LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers to hit the hardwood looking to dominate, humiliate, and rout the Trail Blazers in the first round.
It seems like the Los Angeles Lakers have been waiting for these playoffs to start forever. Finally, after a 7 year drought and a five month hiatus due to coronavirus, the Lakers will play their first playoff game Tuesday night. That game against the Portland Trail Blazers will mark the official start of the Lakers’ quest to win the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, a quest that will ultimately be dedicated to the memories of Kobe and Gigi Bryant.
Winning this NBA championship will be the most challenging in the history of the game and will demand legendary legacy performances from LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the entire roster of the Los Angeles Lakers.