Trail Blazers

LA Lakers don’t seem ready for Trail Blazers smoke... but why?

Trail Blazers
USATSI

The Tortoise and the Hare is a classic tale.

The Hare falls asleep while thinking there is no way the Tortoise will even come close to being at the finish when he wakes up from his nap.

He was wrong, and the Tortoise won the race by taking his time and going at a steady pace.

The tale is coincidental to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers series to a degree.

The Blazers have caught the Lakers sleeping. And they’re up 1-0 in the series with a fighting chance to take the series from the No. 1 overall seed. 

Sure, it’s one game, but the Lakers’ sleepy performance has led to sharp criticism the day after Portland’s 100-93 victory. Now, the Blazers are just a few games away from crossing the finish line.

Why were the Lakers THAT BAD!? 

Let’s dive in... 

For starters, the Lakers did not take the seeding games as seriously as the Blazers did.

Granted, the Blazers needed to win in order to even get to the eight seed.

But for the Lakers, after clinch the No. 1 spot, coasted to the finish line, and it is biting them in the butt. 

For the Blazers, they had a “let’s not waste our f****** time” attitude and every game depended on their season. They won tight games, going 6-2 in the seeding games. Every game came down to single-digit margins of victory. The Lakers got blown out... multiple times. 

 

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The Blazers has shown critics not giving them a chance that they are here to play. They started out with 9% odds of making the playoffs. Those odds don’t scare them. They welcomed it.

Ever since the Lakers clinched the No.1 seed in their third game of the restart, they have been in cruise control rather than taking the time to figure out what needs fixing before the start of the playoffs.

The Lakers are winging it. 

Now, the concerns on how the Lakers have played in this restart have amplified now being in the spotlight.

The role players are not doing their part and their shooting (especially 3-point shooting) is still awful. 

In the last nine games, which include the eight seeding games and the opening playoff game, they’re dead last at 28.6 percent.

In that span, Danny Green has shot 9-of-37 (24.3 percent), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is 5-of-23 (21 percent), and Alex Caruso is 2-of-16 (12.5 percent).

Anthony Davis was 0-for-5 and was 1-for-5 from deep on Tuesday.

Besides the obvious shooting problems, there are a few other issues surrounding this Lakers team.

As James put after the Game 1 loss to the Blazers, they just aren’t in “playoff mode” yet.

“There’s a different type of preparation that goes into a playoff game. You spend hours and hours on teams because you know you’re going to be locked in with them at least for four games,” James explained.

“Throughout a regular-season or these eight games, you really have maybe a day, maybe not even a full day, to lock in on a team and then you start preparing for the next team. Me personally, as far as mentally, I’m not in playoff mode. Physically, I’m getting there.

“I feel like my legs have gotten better and better, my game has improved more and more, I’m getting more and more comfortable with the bubble. But as far as the mental side of it, I’m not there and our team isn’t. But we will be.”

James also has mentioned, via Mark Medina of the USA Today, that he is ‘getting more and more comfortable playing in an empty gym,’ as he has said that playing with the fans, especially ones at Staple Center, really do factor into playoff games and sometimes the outcome of games.

If the Lakers don’t wake up anytime soon, and the Blazers continue to be on their pace that they are on, they might just find themselves in an upset waiting to happen.

Game 2 of their Western Conference Playoff Series is tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. here on NBC Sports NW.