Are the Lakers stars going to dominate again in Game 4? Photo by @ESPNStatsInfo (Twitter).
- The Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers were their win on Saturday
- Damian Lillard played Game 3 despite dislocating a finger late in Game 2
- Get the latest odds, betting discussion and a pick ahead of Game 4
The Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers play Game 4 of their first round playoff series on Monday. The Lakers hold a 2-1 lead in the series after a win on Saturday and will be looking to take a commanding lead in Game 4.
Rajon Rondo was due to return for the Lakers in Game 3, but back spasms meant he was scratched at short notice. Damian Lillard played despite a dislocated finger.
Having won two games on the bounce, the latest Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers odds massively favor the West’s top seed.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers Game 4 Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline Odds at FanDuel||Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-7.5 (-110)||-330||N/A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+7.5 (-110)||+265||N/A|
Odds taken August 23.
Not having a big, mobile defender to put on LeBron James was Portland’s most obvious weakness ahead of this series. After a passive Game 2, in which he attempted just 11 field goals, James was aggressive in Game 3, taking advantage of Portland’s defense. He wreaked havoc, regularly getting to the basket. Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. both attempted to guard LeBron, but neither could do much to halt his progress.
James relished the opportunity to post up the smaller Trent, drawing double teams and kicking out to shooters. When his close friend Anthony was on him, he seized the opportunity to drive. James went 11-for-18 from the field on Saturday on his way to 38 points. Perhaps most significantly, though, he shot 17 free throws.
The Lakers struggled from the line as a team all night (65.1%), but the 43 attempts from the charity stripe was 24 more than Portland managed. James attacked the basket, as did Anthony Davis, and fouls soon racked up. They were in the bonus for much of the game.
Pressuring Lillard And McCollum
The Blazers got off to a flying start in Game 3. Lillard and CJ McCollum had four threes each at the half. Some of them were contested, others were not. Portland’s star backcourt were causing the Lakers trouble, but defensive adjustments changed the pattern of the game.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the first Lakers teammates with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal did it in Game 7 of the 2002 West Finals vs the Kings. pic.twitter.com/zulKgpP1Sf
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2020
McCollum and Lillard went 1-for-8 from deep in the second half and 6-for-20 overall. The Lakers pressured the ball much more, particularly when Lillard was bringing it up the floor in half-court situations. Lillard was forced to give it up and the Lakers closed the pockets of space for quick shots off a screen. Where the Lakers’ bigs had been hanging in the paint previously, they were pushing up to the three-point line.
The Lakers were trying to make someone else beat them. For a short period, Anthony looked like doing that (he went 7-for-9 in the second half). It wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Lakers, who scored 40 in the third quarter.
Lakers follow up with three straight blocks on the Blazers.
Great effort, great defense. pic.twitter.com/IgkY7W1B23
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) August 23, 2020
Jusuf Nurkic had a difficult time in Game 3, going 4-for-10 from the field and registering just three assists. He looked exhausted at points and missed a couple of easy baskets. Portland need a markedly better performance from Nurkic in Game 4 if they are to keep this series competitive.
Lakers Build On Defense
The attention on the potent offensive force of James and Davis together is inevitable, but the Lakers have been a defense-first team this season. They were third in defensive rating and 11th in offensive rating – they are most efficient in transition and that relies on great defense.
Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope look to have broken out of their shooting slumps. With James able to get the looks he wants for himself and others at will, it’s hard to see how Portland can compete without an absurd night from Lillard. Of course, such a performance is possible.
If the Lakers repeat the defense they showed in the second half, they could win Game 4 easily.
Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -7.5 (-110)
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.