The Los Angeles Lakers enter Saturday’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers in the midst of their worst stretch of basketball this season. The team has lost four straight games to the Pacers, Bucks, Nuggets and Clippers and will look to end their first losing streak of the season against Damian Lillard and the Blazers.
Portland is also coming into the game on a two-game losing streak, most recently losing to the Utah Jazz despite a furious comeback. The Blazers have struggled after a disappointing offseason and several key injuries but have turned it up in recent weeks to contend for the bottom two seeds in a relatively weak Western Conference.
The Lakers dominated the first matchup between these two teams, winning 136 to 113 earlier this month. In that game, the Lakers got to the free-throw line 33 times and made 17-of-36 3-pointers in one of their best offensive showcases of the year. Anthony Davis scored 39 points and should be able to go off again against the Blazers’ starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony.
LeBron James dropped 31 of his own with the Blazers’ lack of wing options to guard the star. However, James is nursing a groin injury that bothered him against the Clippers and is currently listed as questionable for the game. Seeing how aggressive LeBron is to get to the rim will go a long way in showing us if he is healthy; he attempted 12 3-pointers on Christmas Day.
Beyond their superstar duo, the Lakers will need great defense from their guards to limit Lillard and C.J. McCollum who have been carrying Portland all year. Even making one of those two guards be inefficient will likely give the Lakers a victory.
If James does not go, the Lakers will rely on Kyle Kuzma who has had two straight solid games since returning from an ankle injury. His shooting prowess and finishing ability have been bright marks despite a pair of Lakers losses.
The Lakers visit Portland at 7 PM PST on Saturday ahead of a Sunday matchup against the Dallas Mavericks in LA.