Thursday, August 20:
(8)Portland Trail Blazers vs. (1)Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5)
- Moneyline: LAL -270
- Over/Under: 229
- Coverage: ESPN at 9:00pm EST
In the Lakers’ playoff opener on Tuesday, LeBron James recorded his 24th career postseason triple-double and Anthony Davis added 28 points, but the duo’s supporting cast failed to contribute offensively, allowing Damian Lillard and the underdog Trail Blazers to steal the first game of the series. With Los Angeles aiming to even the series on Thursday, let’s analyze two entertaining Rapidfire matchups courtesy of Monkey Knife Fight.
Points Matchup: Damian Lillard (-4.5) vs. LeBron James
Lillard outscored James by margins of 10, 26, and 11 points in three of their four clashes this season, with LeBron’s lone edge over Dame occurring in December when he abnormally dropped half a dozen more than his season average of 25.3 points. LeBron has only surpassed the 30 point margin once in his last ten starts, while Lillard has averaged 37 points per game since the restart. Given how mightily the Lakers’ role players struggled on Tuesday, Portland will likely continue to heighten their defensive coverage of LeBron and force the likes of Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to beat them. Look for LeBron to rack up plenty of assists on Thursday but ultimately get lapped by Dame in the points category.
Pick: Damian Lillard -4.5
Assists Matchup: C.J. McCollum (-0.5) vs. Anthony Davis
McCollum averages 1.2 more assists per game than Davis, but A.D. has gotten the best of C.J. in the assist category in all but one of their meetings this season. Assists are statistically more abundant in the purple and gold offense; Los Angeles ranks tenth in the league with 25.3 assists per game, whereas Portland ranks dead last with only 20.6 team assists per game. Should the Lakers recapture the robust ball movement they’ve displayed all season, Davis will find plenty of opportunities to kick the basketball out to open three-point shooters.
Pick: Anthony Davis +0.5
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- Jaime Valdez (USA TODAY Sports)
- Steve Dykes (Getty Images)