The Trail Blazers (4-4) face the Lakers (3-4) in Portland tonight after a tough overtime loss to future Hall of Famer Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz 112 to 103. The Lakers, meanwhile, are coming off a great team win against the Pistons. Tonight the Blazers will look to extend their streak of 12 wins against the Lakers dating back to 2014.
Heading into tonight the Blazers have lost back-to-back games and with two of their wins coming against the Suns, are looking to prove they are a playoff contender in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers feature two guards in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum who can put up 30 points on any given night with a versatile big man in Jusuf Nurkic whose name has a symbol that I had to copy-paste to get correct. McCollum comes into the game shooting an absurd 50% from three, with Lillard a sustainable 34.9%, presenting the first outside threat the Lakers have faced in several games.
With an Offensive Rating of 105.2, a great shooting Portland team will look to jump out to an early lead and put this one away in the first half. Portland may be without Al-Farouq Aminu who left last night’s game in a boot. While his X-rays were negative it may not be worth the risk when facing a scrappy, 12th place team in the Lakers. In his place we may get a rare look at Noah Vonleh who has scored 5 points in 13 minutes so far this season.
For their part the Lakers have boasted a 100 Defensive Rating, which heading into this game ranks them 6th in the entire league. Julius Randle has been a beast in the backup center position, and the young Lakers have been making teams earn it against them. It is still early yet and analytics people, who also don’t like puppies, will throw words at you like regression to the mean. All I hear in that phrase is mean. The Lakers are playing real defense these days.
Brandon Ingram is quietly putting together a season averaging 14.4/3.9/3 and 33% from three. With a motivated Randle and Lonzo Ball’s game improving by the day look for the Lakers to make a game of it late. While this team doesn’t yet have the talent to matchup with the Blazers man-on-man, the Lakers can hit them with defensive intensity on the second half of a back-to-back. Regardless of the outcome, look for NBA analytics twitter to regress to their mean of loving players they know in their heart will not win a championship.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT.