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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Damian Lillard talks up Lakers in response to upset predictions

Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers clinched a postseason berth with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Saturday night’s play-in game, and many believe they have a great chance to knock off the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Damian Lillard obviously thinks his team can do it, but he wants to remind everyone that the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference for a reason.

Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points and 10 assists in their 126-122 win over Memphis. He told reporters after the game that he has heard all the talk about Portland knocking off the Lakers.

“I’ve been seeing everybody saying what we’re going to do to the Lakers,” Lillard said. “The Lakers, they’re the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason. They got the best player in the world on their team. But at the same time, we didn’t fight as hard as we fought in the bubble to just say, all right, we’re the eighth seed to go out there and just get beat up on.”

One of the biggest strengths of the Lakers is their frontcourt, led by Anthony Davis. They’re an outstanding rebounding and shot-blocking team, but Portland’s trio of seven-footers in Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside, and Zach Collins could help contain L.A.’s bigs. Davis averaged 32 points per game against the Blazers this season, but Nurkic was out with an injury at the time.

One Lakers player recently admitted the Blazers will be a tough matchup for his team, and that is especially true since their top perimeter defender, Avery Bradley, did not take part in the resumed season. The Lakers will have their hands full trying to contain Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Still, the Lakers have LeBron James. Portland will have to play nearly mistake-free basketball to stand a chance at getting the best of LeBron and Davis, but anything can happen in what has been a highly unusual season.

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