When and where: November 14, 2018, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA, 10:30 PM ET
The Portland Trail Blazers will head towards California with a score to settle on Wednesday when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers. A nail-biting win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday extended the Lakers win streak to three games, which is the longest streak they’ve put together so far this season. The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, settled in at four consecutive wins after knocking off the Boston Celtics at home.
Trail Blazers defense shows up against the Celtics
An often understated footnote when discussing the Trail Blazers successful season so far is how well they’ve played on the defensive end of the floor. They are currently holding opponents to 106.2 points per game, which ranks fifth in the NBA behind the Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Celtics and Denver Nuggets. They also have the sixth-best defensive rating in the league.
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic has been an absolute force down low defending the rim, but it has also been the evolution of second-year forward Zach Collins that has really given the Trail Blazers the boost they’ve sought for so long defensively. The 2017 No. 10 overall draft pick is already getting comparisons to Trail Blazers shot-blocking legend Joel Przybilla. Whether he actually continues on that trajectory remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The Trail Blazers are a legitimate force to be reckoned with defensively.
Nurkic posted a double-double against the Celtics with 18 points and 17 rebounds, while star guard Damian Lillard contributed a double-double as well with 19 points and 12 assists.
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 12, 2018
Outside of Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, the Trail Blazers defense managed to keep everyone on the Celtics roster relatively in check.
Are the Lakers finally on the right track?
The acquisition of veteran center Tyson Chandler has seemingly re-energized the Lakers after a shaky start to the season.
They’ve looked like a much better team defensively, and they’re finally closing out tight games. Chandler is well into the twilight of his career as an offensive difference-maker, but he is still a viable force in the post capable of making life a living hell for opponents looking to come his way. He registered four points, three blocks, two steals and five rebounds in 21 minutes of action off the bench in Sunday’s game against the Hawks.
🎥 Tyson Chandler discusses how he’s been able to mesh so quickly with the Lakers. pic.twitter.com/CtzR2dlbch
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 13, 2018
Even LeBron James finally looks excited to be playing ball with another former NBA champion, even if he is 36 years old. The blank stares and agitated looks James typically flashes when things aren’t going his way have been replaced with chest-bumping and celebratory bluster that can bring an entire arena to its feet. He finished the game against the Hawks with a team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The Lakers haven’t proven themselves as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference, but they are definitely on the right track after winning three straight games.
- Trail Blazers are 22-7 ATS in their last 29 games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in the previous game
- Trail Blazers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games
- Trail Blazers are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games against teams in the NBA Pacific
- Trail Blazers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game
- Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games against teams in the NBA Northwest
- Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games played at home
- Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in the previous game
- Lakers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after a win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Trail Blazers are still the better basketball game, and the Lakers picking up consecutive wins over lackluster opponents like the Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves isn’t going to change that narrative.
Although the Kings have slightly above a .500 record, they’re still a young basketball team without a LeBron James to help put the pieces together. The Timberwolves are enjoying the resurgence of Derrick Rose but they’re a walking mess, and the Hawks have only won three games so far this season. James had to put on the red cape once again on Sunday just to save the Lakers from dropping a game to the Hawks on their home floor.
The Trail Blazers are a much more capable team offensively and defensively than the Hawks, and they’ll push the Lakers the same way they have the last couple times the teams have played one another. Nurkic and Collins could even create some problems down low for James, who loves to blow past defenders to the basket.
There’s no secret that the best chance of beating James is to force him to take jump shots. It’s still a flip of the coin tactic against the greatest player in the world, but it’s one that’ll work for the Trail Blazers, even if Lillard is unable to play. The Trail Blazers run enough offense through star guard C.J. McCollum to still be a serious threat.
Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers (+2.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 7-0 in the last seven head-to-head meetings between the Trail Blazers and Lakers when playing in Los Angeles. It’s a safe bet to assume the Trail Blazers could potentially limit Lillard’s minutes even if he is given the green light to play through the knee injury. This game will shed more light on the dramatic improvements the Trail Blazers have made defensively rather than serving as another offensive shootout.
Prediction: Under (227)