NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has become more known to the younger generation as an analyst for TNT than as a former MVP with the Phoenix Suns.
Despite him, at a time, being one of the league’s best players, Barkley is now famous for his bold takes. The Los Angeles Lakers are often on the wrong end of those opinions, and in a recent scenario, it meant propping up the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers currently sit atop the Western Conference with a 49-14 record, a full 5.5 games ahead of the No. 2 seeded L.A. Clippers. Due to the fact that there are only eight seeding games, the Lakers have that top seed all but guaranteed to them.
What’s more up in the air is the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies currently have a 3.5-game lead for it, but the Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings all lurk in the standings. Just one of those teams needs to be within four games to trigger a play-in tournament.
Because of this, Barkley went out on a limb to say that — should the Trail Blazers become the No. 8 seed — they will defeat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, via NBA on TNT:
Chuck is back with another bold prediction ???? pic.twitter.com/LpUTdD8CcH
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 17, 2020
While Barkley isn’t just saying this for no reason, a lot would need to happen for the Trail Blazers to defeat the Lakers in a seven-game series.
First, Portland would need to make the playoffs, which is far from guaranteed. For them to qualify, the Trail Blazers would need to outperform the Pelicans and Kings in the eight seeding games while at the very least keeping pace with the Grizzlies.
After that, they would need to defeat the Grizzlies twice in a row in the play-in tournament format. Only then would they have a chance to even face the Lakers.
The Trail Blazers, when healthy, are a great team. During the 2018-19 season, an almost fully healthy Trail Blazers team made it to the Western Conference Finals. However, they did not have to go through LeBron James and Anthony Davis to do it.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially given the already unique circumstances. However, the Lakers simply are the better team, both on paper and in practice.
Damian Lillard believes Trail Blazers could beat Lakers
Should the Trail Blazers find a way to move up to the No. 8 seed, the team’s leader, Damian Lillard, believes that beating the Lakers is a possibility.
While he could just be saying this to project confidence, Lillard has shown on several occasions that he is capable of beating anybody. And despite the Lakers being 2-1 in the season series against them, Lillard has always played well.
In those three matchups, Lillard has averages of 36 points, 9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game.
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