Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 4 Preview – Blazers Edge

August 24, 2020 – 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Trevor Ariza (opted out), Nassir Little (out), Zach Collins (out), Caleb Swanigan (opted out)
Lakers injuries: Rajon Rondo (doubtful), Avery Bradley (opted out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT (or check out Fubo for your streaming needs)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll

The Portland Trail Blazers look to avoid a 3-1 hole against the Los Angeles Lakers and rally to even the series.

Game Three was proof of how depleted the Blazers are across the board. With so many key players missing, Portland was visibly exhausted throughout the second half, in which the Lakers turned a four-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead after three. Damian Lillard did what he could, scoring 34 points, but went cold in the fourth quarter. LeBron James had 38 points, including 12 at the free throw line as the Blazers’ depth was tested immensely by early foul trouble.

What to watch for

  • Find the Middle Ground. The Blazers badly need clarification from the NBA league front office on what constitutes a foul. The only times during Game Three where the calls went Portland’s way came when Gary Trent Jr. would take an elbow to the face defending LeBron James and fall to the ground. If the Blazers cannot stop a James or Anthony Davis drive without fouling, there is not much hope left.
  • Assault the Rim. Jusuf Nurkic left several points on the rim in Game Three by trying to outguess Anthony Davis when attacking the hoop. Nurkic tried to flip the ball up, anticipating a Davis block attempt, but instead would simply miss a highly makeable shot. Nurkic may have been in foul trouble at the time, and Davis gets more than a lion’s share of charging fouls against him, but Nurkic must directly strike the basket. Otherwise, there is no reason to bother defending him, putting way too much pressure on Lillard and CJ McCollum.
  • Find a Place for Carmelo. Carmelo Anthony played well in the bubble games, but has massively struggled in the Lakers series. He scored 20 in Game Three, but on a highly inefficient 9-of-20 shooting. Overall, he is shooting 35.1% from the field in the series so far. Anthony clearly does not want to be shown up by his fellow 2003 NBA Draft pick and friend LeBron James, but Anthony is forcing shots from bad angles. He has been at his best recently on the catch-and-shoot from range, and should get back to that to find success.

What they’re saying

Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll talked about the Lakers’ gameplan to slow down the Blazers’ offense:

In the 55.4 partial possessions Lillard has been defended by Caruso, he’s shot 41.2% from the field, according to NBA.com. For context, Lillard has shot 63.6% from the field in the 43.1 partial possessions he’s been defended by Caldwell-Pope.

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