LeBron James played his heart out. 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists is a historic stat-line. So why did the Laker’s lose Game 1 to the Portland Trailblazers? You guessed it, James did not receive adequate support in return for his superlative efforts. But you can’t put all the blame on the Lakers, when your playing against Damian Lillard.
Anthony Davis scored 28 points, which sounds terrific, but he only made 33% of his shots. He went 0-5 from deep, which makes one question why Anthony Davis chose not to spend more time on the block, versus hoist up 3’s or deep 2’s. He lived at the foul-line, but unfortunately missed two key FT’s in closing minutes. Is Anthony Davis a generational talent? Yes. Is Anthony Davis going to receive a max deal on his next contract? You bet. Is Anthony Davis ready for big-time, showtime, LA Lakers, playoff basketball? The jury’s out.
The mere mention of COVID 19 is utterly abysmal, so we can’t fault Avery Bradley for ditching the bubble to spend time with his family. That said, the Lakers perimeter defense took a major blow when he opted-out. The Lakers also lost a shooter. On a night where the Lakers couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, one might question why a volume scorer like J.R. Smith was ever signed in the first place. Dion Waiters also rode the pine, and while there’s some press about Rondo making a return, he’s never been able to shoot.
Damian Lillard is a fierce competitor, and he’s smart. Not only did he strike when he had to, but he played the role of decoy. He spaced the floor, shot the ball from deep when necessary, and by drawing the Lakers to him and keeping them honest, he opened up the floor for CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony. Lillard ended up with 34 points, but his timing, pace, and leadership was impeccable.
So instead of signing Carmelo who was basically spoon-fed to The Lakers, we signed Waiters and J.R.? Hindsight is 20-20.