The Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers meet for the second time this season, with each coming off losses. Which team will rebound on Saturday?
Catch this game live on Saturday, January 1, at 11:30 AM, Manila time.
Away: Portland Trail Blazers (13-21/2-12 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Damian Lillard
- SG: Tony Snell
- SF: Norman Powell
- PF: Nassir Little
- C: Larry Nance Jr.
Just like many other teams in the NBA, the Blazers are also dealing with personnel issues due to the COVID-19 virus wreaking across the league. With Portland missing a bunch of players last Thursday, the team fell prey to the Utah Jazz at home, 120-105. The Blazers have now lost all of their past three games. But they are about to get some reinforcements for the rematch against the Lakers, with Dennis Smith Jr. and Ben McLemore having just cleared health and safety protocols.
Unfortunately, Anfernee Simons has just hit the health and safety protocols. At the end of the day, the Blazers will go as far as where Damian Lillard takes them Saturday. Lillard, who scored 25 points with six 3-pointers in Portland’s 105-90 home win against the Lakers back in November, has averaged 34.4 points and shot 43.4% from deep in the last five Portland games. Norman Powell has also stepped up, averaging 21.0 points with a 41 3FG% during that same stretch. The Trail Blazers have covered the spread in 14 of their past 18 games as the road team versus the Lakers.
Home: Los Angeles Lakers (17-19/10-10 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Malik Monk
- SF: Avery Bradley
- PF: LeBron James
- C: Dwight Howard
The Lakers are back to their losing ways despite the best efforts of LeBron James. After snapping a five-game losing streak with a 132-123 win in Texas against the Houston Rockets, James and the Lakers suffered a 104-99 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday. James scored 37 points, his sixth-straight 30-point performance, and added 13 rebounds and seven assists. The King doesn’t have much of a choice but continue pounding out excellent statistical performances, with the Lakers missing key pieces.
He was not around in the first meeting with Portland due to an upper-body injury, so his presence Saturday will be a big problem for the Blazers’ Swiss cheese defense that’s fifth-worst in the league with 111.9 points allowed per game. The Blazers have even managed to be even more horrendous on that end of the floor during their last three games in which they gave up an average of 121.0 points. That should light up the eyes of James, Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, and Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers are 9-9-0 ATS in games this season after a loss.
Spread: Given how bad the Blazers’ defense is due to the absences of the likes of Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, Portland could get carved up by the Lakers. This a great chance for LA to recover and look good in the process. Taking the Lakers to cover (-5.5).
Over/Under: This could take the form of the Lakers game against the Rockets last Wednesday. Liking the Over (230.5) to hit for this game.