The Los Angeles Lakers may have held down the majority of the regular season, but the Portland Trail Blazers reminded them it’s a new day. The Lakers joined the Milwaukee Bucks as the second top-seed to suffer a defeat at the start of the first round with the Trail Blazers stealing a 100-93 victory.
Same Old Long Range Shooting Woes
Just when things looked to be heading in the right direction in their last seeding game, the Lakers putrid shooting followed them into the playoffs. As a team, they shot 15.6 percent from long range with only five of 32 attempts made. Superstar Damian Lillard singlehandedly outshot them with six of his own, including two big fourth-quarter bombs that distanced the teams down the stretch. No remedies seem to be coming down the pike. It all starts with the starting wings: Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Both are getting extra work in and hoping to regain their form in March.
Jason Kidd and Phil Handy are doing some extra working with Danny Green and KCP on corner shooting as we waltz into Lakers’ practice today. pic.twitter.com/ElFNBTAbvq
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) August 19, 2020
Green shot 36.7 percent in the regular season, including the eight seeding games in the bubble where he shot 25 percent. KCP is 38.5 percent from three including his bubble performance of 27.7 percent from distance.
Rondo On the Mend
Rajon Rondo has been cleared to play after missing the seeding games with a broken thumb. The Lakers have missed having a familiar face to take over the ball-handling duties during non-LeBron minutes. There are still some question marks on if we see the veteran get minutes on Thursday night.
Rajon Rondo will be listed as questionable for Game 2. There's a "50/50" chance he will play per Frank Vogel #Lakeshow
— Laurantine (@LoJoMedia) August 19, 2020
Most teams believe in continuity this time of the year. With their performance in the bubble, the Lakers are falling out of the criteria of “most teams.” Head coach Frank Vogel is showing an open-mind to switching things up depending on what happens as the series progresses, but he may hold steady with the usual starters.
Frank Vogel: "As a one seed and team with the best record in the West, I'm confident in the lineup that we have, but we'll continue to evaluate."
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) August 19, 2020
Lakers’ Silver Lining
The Lakers can hang their hat on their defense from game one. The Blazers came in gunning with an average of 126 points per game and the Lakers held them to 100 points. In the third quarter, they kept Lillard scoreless. On top of that, they got some solid minutes out of Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard. Alex Caruso played about as well as you could on defense against both Blazers guards. If LeBron James and Anthony Davis can find some success with their jumpers and attacking the basket, they should see a turnaround in Game 2.
Tip-off is scheduled for 9PM EST/6PM EST.