The Portland Trail Blazers enter this contest with the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers with a couple of things in common. They are both missing key players and they both have been struggling as a result. Now both teams are trying to right the proverbial ships and get their seasons back on track before things get too bad, too fast.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Friday, February 26, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Staples Center
Can The Trail Blazers Score Enough To Win?
The Trail Blazers have been a mess without Jusuf Nurkic and C.J. McCollum. Their defense, which was suspect enough to begin with, has been non-existent over the last few weeks. Yet Portland, has not folded, they have fought. Damian Lillard has led this team with his typical brand of leadership and defiance.
The Trail Blazers have not quit on Head Coach Terry Stotts, and I do not expect them to be a push over on Friday night in Los Angeles. The formula for Portland to win is quite simple. They have to have their shots falling, because they cannot stop their opponents, they must outscore them.
And yet, the Trail Blazers have fallen on hard times recently. They have dropped three in a row to the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. They were blown out by the Suns, but otherwise have played close in the other two losses. They are a tough out no matter who is on the floor, as long as Lillard is one of the players suiting up in a Portland uniform.
Can Dennis Schroder Be A Spark Plug For The Lakers?
The Lakers are missing Anthony Davis to be sure. That statement may well be a candidate for the understatement of 2021 thus far. They have lost their last four games and have had incredible trouble scoring the basketball. Prior to these recent games, the Oklahoma City Thunder took them to overtime twice consecutively. LeBron James is doing typical LeBron things, but at age 36 he is also playing a massive amount of minutes.
The Anthony Davis injury has been bad enough, but the recent COVID-19 sidelining of Dennis Schroder has been incredibly harmful to this Lakers team. It has impacted their defense, their depth and of course their scoring ability. The Lakers are not a team overloaded with shooting. We’ve seen that over the last two seasons. Shooting can go cold for Los Angeles and it has indeed gone cold over the last few games.
They have lost four in a row and need Schroder back sooner than later. He has officially been listed as probable for this game. That is a big boost for the Lakers’ chances against the Trail Blazers on Friday night.
This is a tricky game to handicap because both teams are hungry and maybe desperate for a win. The Lakers got destroyed by the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night and are now closer to the playoff bubble than the number one seed in the Western Conference. There are problems in Lakerland. And Portland is needing to get things right as well.
The Trail Blazers have fought valiantly in the absence of their second and third best players. Each game is key. The Lakers do not have great scoring ability with Anthony Davis out and that is what Portland needs to win. Because their defense is so porous they need to take advantage of these opportunities. This game seems to benefit Portland. And yet…the Lakers are still the Lakers. LeBron is still LeBron.
The return of Dennis Schroder is key here and it seems he will play. Schroder will aid in the Lakers defense and take some of the load off of LeBron James. I will back the defending champs to come out angry and take care of business as they get a bit healthier.
NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 (-110) at BetMGM