Noted NBA analyst Charles Barkley provided a hot take worse than his golf swing on Thursday, saying the Portland Trail Blazers will upset the Los Angeles Lakers in the first-round of the NBA playoffs if they earn the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
“I’m going to tell you this, if the Portland Trail Blazers get in the playoffs, they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round,” Barkley ranted while on the NBA on TNT.
Bold might be the wrong word for Barkley’s prediction, but he’s at least consistent. The Hall of Famer recently named the Blazers as a sleeper title contender.
“The one team in the Western Conference, if they get Nurkic back and Zach Collins, nobody’s going to want to see the Portland Trail Blazers. They got, arguably — other than Klay and Steph — the best backcourt in the NBA. Whiteside’s been playing pretty good all year. But if they get Nurkic and Zach Collins back, nobody’s going to want to see the Portland Trail Blazers.”
Damian Lillard Would Welcome Matchup With Lakers
The Lakers were the top seed in the Western Conference when the season was put on hold, rolling to a 49-14 record behind superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers will more than likely retain the top spot after the seeding game in Orlando, holding a 5.5 game lead on the second seeded Clippers.
Damian Lillard and the Blazers could be on a collision course to see the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, depending on how the seeding games play out in Orlando. Portland is occupying the No. 9 spot and are 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies.
Lillard recently said in a Vanity Fair interview that he’d welcome a playoff matchup with the Lakers.
“Of course,” Lillard said. “I think we could beat them.”
The Lakers went 2-1 against the Blazers this season. Lillard dropped one of his best games of the season against the Lakers in late January when he put up 48 points in a the Blazers’ lone victory.
Lakers Are Title Favorites in Orlando
Vegas has a very different opinion than Barkley on the Lakers, who are the favorite to take home the title in the slightly abbreviated season. Odds Shark has the Lakers listed at +200, with the next closest contender being the Milwaukee Bucks at +280. The Los Angeles Clippers are next at +300 before the odds take a deep dive with the Celtics, who are listed at +1200. The Blazers are +10,000, meaning a $100 bet on Portland would make you a nice chunk of change.
While the Lakers are dealing with an injury to veteran guard Rajon Rondo and starter Avery Bradley sitting out of the restart, the team’s super star LeBron James has looked better than ever with some rest under his belt.
“Outstanding,” Vogel said of the shape James showed up to Orlando in, per Mike Trudell. “It’s really remarkable how he’s been able to stay in shape, stay ready, to be sharp as if there wasn’t a layoff at all. He’s playing at a really high level.”