Los Angeles Lakers: The worst possible playoff path is now likely

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

First round: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

  • Trail Blazers’ current place in the standings: 9th (0.5 games behind Memphis)
  • Orlando bubble record: 4-1
  • Remaining opponents: Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to be a tough matchup. Forget everything you know about the traditional first-seed vs. eighth-seed first-round playoff matchup. The Lakers will be favored, and rightfully so, but this is going to be a really tough series for the Lakers.

The Blazers are now half a game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. And while Portland has some tough opponents ahead, the Grizzlies have not won in the bubble and have to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. They are winning one game, at most.

The Blazers will likely take over the eighth seed and then will have that double-elimination playoff against Memphis where they only have to win one game. Then it will be time for a showdown against the Lakers.

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The Blazers are dangerous for several reasons. First, they are at full strength for the first time all season with Jusuf Nurkic and Carmelo Anthony playing great basketball in the bubble. Second, the Lakers have been playing awful perimeter defense thus far in the bubble and that is something that the Blazers’ elite backcourt will expose.

If the Blazers are hot from beyond the arc then I do not really know how the Lakers are going to counter, especially with the three-point shooting being atrocious thus far in the playoffs.

Do I think the Lakers will get past the Blazers? Sure. But I do think that this is a series that will go at least six games, which is really dangerous in the first round and is taxing.

And if they get past the Blazers they are likely going to face…