NBA Playoffs Western Conference Round 1
August 22: Game 3 – Los Angeles Lakers versus Portland Trailblazers
The Lakers finished 52-19 during the regular season and are coming off a 23-point win to even the series at a game each. The Trailblazers finished 35-39 during the season and won the opening game in the series by seven points. The Lakers took two of three games during the regular season and are a 7 ½ point favorite with an over/under of 225.
Anthony Davis has led the Lakers this postseason, averaging 29.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. LeBron James in check in terms of scoring, averaging 16.5 per game, but is averaging a triple-double. JR Smith contributed 11 points in his lone playoff game. Kyle Kuzma has been steady at 10.5 points per game and JaVale McGee has pounded the boards at 8.5 in only 12 minutes per game.
Although Damian Lillard is averaging 26 points per game, the Lakers are doing a solid job considering the amazing run Lillard had in the bubble. C.J. McCollum has struggled at big, averaging five points below his season average during this series. Jusuf Nurkic provides a steady presence inside averaging a double-double. Carmelo Anthony is shooting only 23 percent from the floor and averaging 6.5 points per game this series. He needs to get it going to give Portland a decent shot at winning.
During the regular season, Portland was slightly better offensively at 115 points per game compared to 113.4 for the Lakers. On the other hand, the Lakers were significantly better at the defensive end, allowing 8.5 points per game less. Portland is better at taking care of the ball, averaging only 12.4 turnovers per game and are a better three-point shooting team.
The Lakers have the capability of lockdown defense, as was the case in game two, allowing just 88 points. In this all-important game three, I see a more solid defensive effort on Portland’s end, while the Lakers will still be really good, but unlikely to hold the Trailblazers to under 100. Look for the Lakers to find a way to win a lower scoring game. I pick the “under” and for Portland to cover the 7 ½ points.