Lakers vs. Blazers nuggets of knowledge
This one should be fun. The Blazers are a top shelf team at home (26-5), where their splits show they're stronger in virtually every meaningful statistical category. Bottom line, don't expect to see the same Portland team the Lakers beat by 20 on Oct. 28 or 14 on Jan. 4 when the teams hit the floor tonight at the Rose Garden.
And, of course, we all know about the six straight losses for LA up Oregon way, just in case the opposition wasn't problem enough.
A few thoughts, and some good pregame reading:
- Pace is going to be an interesting factor, as each team tries to nudge the other from its comfort zone. The Lakers are the fifth fastest team by pace factor in the NBA, but for all their youth and athleticism, the Blazers are 30th. Out of 30, in case there was confusion. Don't mistake slow with inefficient or ineffective. Portland is second only to the Lakers in offensive efficiency, producing 113.3 points per 100 trips. (LA is at 114.) With two teams that produce points so proficiently, holding on to the ball is more important than normal. Interestingly enough, both teams produce turnovers from the opposition at almost identical rates.
And while the Lakers outrebound Portland on a per game basis, the Blazers are actually a little better on the offensive glass in absolute terms and lead the league in offensive rebound percentage. Add second chance points to the list of things of things LA will have to limit.
- It's worth noting that the Blazers can run, too, when they want.
- The Lakers haven't seen the good Brandon Roy, and need to make sure that trend continues. Writes Kurt at Forum Blue and Gold:
"...The Lakers defense is predicated on stopping penetration, that is the reason for bringing the help line over so far (bringing the big over to essentially zone off the strong side), but that will be put to a real test with Roy. He is going to get past Fisher (and Farmar), Roy will kill you with layups, and while he hits jumpers it is at a lower percentage, so you have to get the ball out of his hands and to the other shooters. Against the Pacers, take Roy out of the equation and the team shot 37%. This is one case where the Nash/CP3 system is not the goal — you want to get the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat you..."
- More on Roy, from Blazers Edge. Read the whole preview, because it's very clear the respect those guys have for the Lakers. Also some interesting thoughts on Kobe Bryant:
"...Brandon Roy had a poor outing when the Blazers played L.A. on opening night and was injured when these teams met in January. He must have a big night for us to have a chance. Not only do we need the points to counterbalance Kobe, Brandon creating trouble, especially off the dribble, forces the L*kers to scramble more on defense. In past years Kobe has gotten into foul trouble trying to contain Roy, which is definitely to the Blazers' benefit. Even if Bryant stays clean, though, moving their interior defenders and forcing them to rotate takes them out of their defensive game. When it's their leader requiring the help (assuming Bryant guards Roy) it's a double-whammy..."
- Ball Don't Lie has this as their game to pay attention to.
- The LaMarcus Aldridge/Lamar Odom matchup is going to be interesting to watch. Odom has to avoid foul trouble and stay on the floor. And while there's been some concern over his scoring of late, it's more important tonight that LO get on the glass. The Lakers' bench had a decent home stand against inferior competition. It'll be fun to see how they hold up against a deeper team on a very hostile court.