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Portland Trail Blazers odds
The Trail Blazers opened the restart with a victory over the then eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, and closed out their run to the postseason with another win over the Grizz in the Western Conference play-in game to make the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Blazers went 6-2 — plus the play-in win — for the right to take on the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
Restart MVP Damian Lillard willed the Blazers into the playoffs, but it’s going to take more than his 37.6 points per game to defeat the Lakers. How do the Blazers, whose Achilles’ heel is already defense, match up with and contain LeBron James and Anthony Davis? The Blazers will be without starting forward Zach Collins (ankle) for Game 1.
Jusuf Nurkic, who missed all of the regular season prior to the restart, averaged 17.6 ppg in the bubble, including a 22-point, 21-rebound double-double in the play-in game.
Los Angeles Lakers odds
The Lakers muddled their way to a 3-5 record in the restart but with the top seed secured, job No. 1 was finding their optimal lineup without Avery Bradley (opt-out) and Rajon Rondo (fractured thumb), the latter medically cleared but unlikely to play in Game 1.
Kyle Kuzma upped his game, averaging 15.4 points per game in the bubble, nearly three points better than his average coming in. But the Lakers scored 106.4 points per game and averaged 30.3 percent shooting the 3 in the restart, ranking next-to last and last.
LeBron James (25.3 ppg) and Anthony Davis (26.1) figure to impose their will on a Blazers team without obvious answers for either superstar. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who missed the last two games of the restart, expects to take the lead in guarding Damian Lillard.