PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tuesday night marks Game 1 in the playoff series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Here are six keys to Portland winning the game:
Have to win the big man battle
The Blazers have very efficient and talented big men with Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic, and these two are going to need to out-play the Lakers’ Anthony Davis as well as Dwight Howard and Javal Magee. More importantly, the Blazers big men are going to have to find a way to score, because defensively the Lakers big men are excellent.
Bench needs to have a big impact
The Lakers have an extremely talented bench full of pure scorers. The Blazers bench with Mario Hezonja and Gary Trent Jr. are going to have to come in and play a major role and have to make key plays on both the offensive side of the ball and defensive side of the ball. They really need to help the starters out when they are off the court and not dg themselves a hole.
Damian Lillard needs another big game
It doesn’t seem fair to ask Dame to consistently put up outrage numbers just for the Blazers to squeak by teams. With that being said, when you are the face of the franchise, you are going to be asked to do more than everyone else. Even if that means averaging 40 points against the best team in the league.
Defense has to be sharp
The Blazers cannot play defense like they have been since returning in the bubble. Though they have won more times than they have lost, it hasn’t been because of their defense. The Blazers have struggled big time containing talented players and consistently guarding the perimeter. Though the Lakers are not the best three point shooting team, if the Blazers defense does a poor job defensively, this could potentially be a blow out.
Cannot afford a third quarter meltdown
The third quarter continues to be a nightmare for the Blazers. Against a team like the Lakers, if you let them, they will steamroll their opponent and have a big sustainable lead which would ultimately put the game away with no chance of a comeback. The Blazers have to find whatever spark they can coming out of halftime. If not, this game could get ugly.
Get the ball out of Lebron’s hands
It is much easier said than done. But, with Lebron James being one of the best players the game of basketball has ever seen, the Blazers have to do anything they can to get the ball out of his hands. They need to double team him, trap him, or deny on defense so he cannot get the ball. James has had hundreds of legendary playoff games and the Blazers do not want to be the next one to add to his milestones.