The Los Angeles Lakers managed to avoid a near-disaster to begin the 2020 NBA Playoffs. When the final seedings were set at the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Lakers had earned the No. 1 seed, which they were in prime position for heading into the restart. But what they likely didn’t expect was to wind up facing a surging Portland Trail Blazers team in the opening round.
The Blazers, led by Damian Lillard and a roster filled with talent, impressed throughout seeding play and won a playoff play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies to land the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. From there, Lillard and company proceeded to upset LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the NBA title-favorite Lakers in Game 1 by a score of 100-93.
Lillard poured in 34 points in the series opener while LeBron’s superb triple-double complete with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists wasn’t enough to grab the series lead. The Lakers were then facing the possibility of falling into a major 2-0 hole against a hungry Blazers team, which they avoided thanks to a dominant 111-88 victory behind Anthony Davis’ 31 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lakers and Blazers are now set for Game 3 of the opening-round series on Saturday, August 22, with tip currently set for 8:30 pm ET on ABC.
Damian Lillard’s Injury
After Lillard’s dominant Game 1 performance, he was somewhat quiet in Game 2 before hurting his hand late in the loss. While Lillard’s stat line showed just 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting with four turnovers and three assists, the concern over his outlook for the remainder of the postseason immediately escalated.
Thankfully, Lillard avoided a worst-case scenario, as it was revealed that he suffered a dislocated left index finger. While it was initially believed to possibly be something more severe, the Blazers star will play in Game 3, but as ESPN reported, head coach Terry Stotts expects Lillard to wear a splint on his finger.
Whether the splint and Lillard’s injury as a whole impacts his shooting will be the big question heading into Game 3, and it’ll have a significant role in evaluating the outlook of this game, along with the best way to bet it.
Betting Line & Pick
Betting line: Los Angeles Lakers (-7.5 at -110) vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
In any normal season, this would be a home game for the Blazers, and they’d have a major home-court advantage. But with the NBA’s restart taking place in the Orlando bubble, all games are played on a neutral court. This is a big reason why the Lakers are entering Game 3 as more than a seven-point favorite.
The Lakers came out in Game 2 with different energy and fire, which made it apparent that this group knew they needed to avoid landing in a 2-0 hole. Falling behind in this series 2-1, especially with a loss in a game where Lillard is battling a finger injury, would be a brutal spot that again shifts the momentum back to Portland.
I’m not expecting to see another 20-plus point victory for the Lakers, but I do think they narrowly cover the spread in this spot. If you can move the line to seven, I’d do so, but another interesting option could be to take the under, which is currently set at 224.5.
The first two games of the series have gone well under this number, and with Lillard’s offensive production a question mark, I could see Game 3 being somewhat low-scoring again.
Pick: Lakers -7.5 at -110
Bonus pick: Under 224.5