The story of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game two win over the Portland Trail Blazers was the team’s improved shooting after an abysmal performance in their game one loss. But there was more to their success in the 111-88 win.
One major adjustment the Lakers made was to run more actions offensively that forced Blazers guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to be more active participants defensively, something Anthony Davis admitted as a key for the team heading into the game. That meant more screens set by Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Green, in particular, did a phenomenal job with his screening. Those actions are just good offensive possessions because the two Portland stars are poor defensively but they have the added benefit of tiring them out. Both Lillard and McCollum have played a ton of minutes to drag Portland into the playoffs. McCollum has a fracture in his back and Lillard dislocated his finger in game two. It’s pretty clear that they could run out of steam if the Lakers keep their feet on the pedal.
Lillard and McCollum combined for just 31 points and eight assists in 63 minutes on Thursday. They shot 12 of 30 from the field two of 12 3-pointers and only took seven free throws. There was tremendous defense played by the Lakers guards and bigs but a lot of that was also just fatigue setting in, especially for Lillard who was the hottest player heading into the playoffs. You can see some of the plays AD was talking about below:
The Blazers will certainly try to combat this change by the Lakers by trying to hide Lillard and McCollum but if the Lakers’ guards can continue to play well, hit shots, and force those two to run around to defend them, the Lakers should be able to continue to take advantage of them.