Charles Barkley hasn’t changed his stance on the Portland Trail Blazers.
The TNT longtime analyst believes the Trail Blazers have what it takes to knock off the Lakers in the first-round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, despite Portland dropping the last two games in the series.
If you asked Barkley, he’d guarantee Damian Lillard & Co. are going to snag Game 4 vs. the Lakers on Monday night at 6:00 p.m.
“My Trail Blazers-- we’re gonna rise up,” Barkley said on Sunday’s broadcast. “Tomorrow night, the Portland Trail Blazers guaranteed.”
This isn’t quite as hot of a take as Barkley’s recently had a bold prediction that Portland would sweep the series after the Blazers upset the Lakers in Game 1, 100-93.
Barkley was so pleased with the result that he pulled out a broom on the TNT set, proclaiming a Portland sweep was imminent.
Then, the next two games happened. The Lakers roared back in Game 2 to tie up the series 1-1 after a lopsided 111-88 victory.
Shaquille O’Neal roasted Barkley following the Trail Blazers loss, breaking a broom in front of his co-host as a display of loyalty to the LA Lakers fanbase.
“Don’t you ever disrespect Laker Nation. You understand me?” O’Neal told Barkley. “I got you Laker Nation. Always.”
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]
Portland held a 4-point lead at halftime in Game 3, but when it came to free throw attempts, the Trail Blazers were actually in a steep hole against the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. The 31-8 differential in free throw attempts was a huge factor and Portland fell 116-108 to Los Angeles in Game 3.
Despite the Trail Blazers being down 2-1 in the series, Chuck made it clear he's not discouraged. Neither is Lillard.
"I've been in worse situations in a series," Lillard said. "We've got to get the next game. We get the next one, and it's a tied series. That's perfectly fine with me."
If there’s any time to pick a No. 8 seed to upset the best team in the West, the time is now.
Lillard is a one-of-a-kind of star capable of dominating a series and CJ McCollum and Gary Trent Jr. are capable of exploding from long distance at any moment. Add Jusuf Nurkic, Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside into the mix, and you have hungry squad of bigs just waiting to feast on the Lakers.