The Blazers again? Tonight’s game in Portland will be the 3rd time in 20 days these teams have played. The circumstances in this game are different with Russell not traveling with the team due to his MCL sprain/strained calf, but besides that there’s really nothing new to add about a match up between these squads.
I mean, we can argue about whether Brandon Ingram or Jose Calderon should start, if that’s your thing. I think it’s the latter since my guess is that neither approximates what Russell brings and that Ingram’s defensive ability does not yet translate to guarding guys like Lillard or even McCollum. His length and off ball work in passing lanes matters so much more against guys more his size, not the jitterbugging, P&R heavy types in the Blazers’ backcourt. If you feel differently, though, fine.
Beyond that, though, what is there to discuss? Randle vs. Aminu? Whether Lou/Clarkson can get buckets against what has been a porous Blazers’ defense? Whether Evan Turner continues to be a thorn in the Lakers’ side with his mid-range shooting and shot creation for himself and teammates as a primary ball handler in transition? I mean, these things surely matter, they’re just not new ideas and I think it’s pretty fair to say that if these things tilt in the Lakers’ favor, they’ll win. If they don’t or if Dame/CJ score in bunches, the Lakers’ lose.
It sounds simple. But it actually is simple. Sometimes the game just is.
So, what is there to break down? Well, probably very little. I want the Lakers to play hard and be engaged defensively. The Blazers run some creative stuff on offense and it will be important for the Lakers’ bigs (especially) to be engaged and proactive in their coverages since they will be put in a ton of screen actions both on and off the ball. Those little weak side flare sets, on-ball P&R’s, and screen the screener actions can really get big men lost defensively. So, the Lakers need to be ready.
Hopefully the rest, additional time to review tape, and get some practices in has helped. Hopefully the team also understands that the season is slipping (and some would argue it already has slipped) away, so rediscovering the right mental approach is a necessity.
I have written (and tweeted) lately that the team needs to focusing on building good habits. Win or lose, it is of most importance for the 2nd half of the year. The best way to show you are doing those things is by executing on the court. It’s not about soundbites after a loss or even spirited practices (though, those things also matter), but showing you are able to translate that work into the 48 minutes on game night. Let’s see how it goes tonight.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on ESPN.