Game Chat- Lakers at Blazers
NOTE: As always, the chat box is below the jump.
Home court in the Finals probably matters more to Cleveland than the Lakers, but by getting it, LA could remove a huge advantage the Cavs could carry into that series. Similar thing tonight. Even if they lose, the Lakers would enter a series with the Blazers believing with the utmost of confidence that they could win a series against Portland despite struggling at the Rose Garden. Win, though, and they put a dent in some of that confidence the Blazers would need should these teams meet.
A lil' ol' seed of doubt can do wonders. Some things to watch tonight:
- The Glass: The Lakers may lead the league in total rebounding, but a closer look at the numbers shows that the Blazers are more effective, especially when it comes to offensive rebounding. Portland grabs a league best 32.9% of their own misses, and lead the league in rebounding margin (+5.3) by a fairly wide margin. In their last visit to the Rose Garden, LA was beaten up on the boards, but that was without Andrew Bynum in the lineup. Thursday against Denver, Pau Gasol was the primary beneficiary of Bynum's return, gathering 19 boards, many coming off the weak side on the offensive glass, and overall the Lakers looked more like the Windex club they were over the first half of the year. It'll be interesting to see how the Lakers do tonight against a much more effective rebounding team in Portland.
- Turnovers: Despite myriad of high-flying athletes, Portland plays slowly (at 86.5, they have the lowest pace factor in the NBA, via basketball-reference.com), but they're extremely efficient, averaging 113.8 points per 100 trips, vs. 112.6 for the Lakers. They aren't, however, nearly as good on the other end. If LA can move the ball effectively, mixing smart jumpers with strong interior play, they ought to be able to put some points on the board, but they can't do Portland any favors by surrendering cheap points. On a trip-to-trip basis, Portland will score, even against good defensive teams.
- Pick and Roll: The Blazers run it very well, with guys who can finish at the rim and players like LaMarcus Aldridge who have great range on the jumper. The other night, I watched them slaughter the Spurs with endless P and R sets. I'd be shocked if Nate McMillan didn't try to test Andrew Bynum by pulling him out away from the basket as much as possible. The Lakers will need to be sharp on their rotations.