The Portland Trail Blazers are just one win away from clinching home court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs with just two games to go. The Blazers will travel to Los Angeles to deal with the struggling Lakers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles has won two straight games over the Trail Blazers after Portland rattled off 16 straight wins against the Lakers.
Portland has won three of their last four games to improve their record to 51-29 on the season. The Trail Blazers hold a two-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles has actually won two straight games, but this has been a miserable season for them. The Lakers bring a 37-44 record into this game. Portland is a 9.0 point favorite over the Lakers.
Blazers Winning Without Nurkic
The Portland Trail Blazers have been playing without center Jusuf Nurkic for quite some time, but it hasn’t really affected them. Portland is averaging 114.5 points per game this season, and are shooting 36 percent from the three-point line. The Trail Blazers sometimes gets a little lazy on defense, but that shouldn’t be a problem against this Lakers team.
All-Star point guard Damian Lillard leads the team with 25.9 points and 6.9 assists per game this season and looks ready to carry the Blazers on a long postseason run. Shooting guard C.J. McCollum has chipped in with more than 21 points per game this season and is a terrific three-point shooter. Portland has a bunch of other talented players, but they will follow their terrific guards in the playoffs.
Lakers Playing Without LeBron
The Los Angeles Lakers have been playing without LeBron James for the last few weeks, and it has given some other players a chance to step up. LeBron was having another terrific season for the Lakers; leading the team with 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. It will be strange to see an NBA Playoffs without LeBron, but you can bet that he will bounce back better than ever next season.
Kyle Kuzma is about the only other regular that is still seeing playing time as the season winds down. Kuzma continues to improve each game and is pouring in 18.7 points per game this season. The Lakers have really struggled on defense this season, especially their younger players. Los Angeles is giving up 113.6 points per game this season, and that could be a huge problem against a high scoring Trail Blazers team.
Blazers Roll Over Depleted Lakers
The Portland Trail Blazers have been a perennial playoff team for the past decade, but this might be their best team yet. Portland can really score the basketball, and Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are both terrific shooters. You can expect that the young Lakers will compete and play hard in this game, but they just don’t have the weapons to compete with Portland. The Trail Blazers are going to win this one in a rout. Bet the Portland Trail Blazers -9.0 over the Los Angeles Lakers.