After losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1, the Los Angeles Lakers have to go back to the drawing board to find a solution.
Defensively, the Lakers did their job by making life difficult for the Blazers, holding them to only 39.2% from the field. However, a couple of late-game possessions cost them, and now must climb out of an early 1-0 hole.
The starting lineup has not played well since arriving to Orlando, struggling on both ends and leading to early deficits. This was exacerbated against Portland as they raced out to a 16-point first quarter lead that may have been the difference in the game.
Despite the underwhelming performance, head coach Frank Vogel did not announce any immediate changes. “In any series with any team, it would be something I consider and evaluate based on a certain matchup,” Vogel said.
“The way you started throughout the course of a season isn’t how you always stay throughout a seven-game series. As a one seed and team with the best record in the West, I’m confident in the lineup that we have, but we’ll continue to evaluate all that stuff game to game, just like we would in any playoff series.”
Aside from the starters, Vogel also remained non-committal on going smaller earlier in games. “We’ve had a good blend throughout the year where we play big and small every game, and we have the ability to manipulate that,” he noted.
“They’re doing the same right now. Sometimes they’ve got two seven-footers out there and sometimes they’re smaller. We’ll just continue to evaluate and try to strike the right balance.”
While it is only one game, Vogel may be forced to make a change some point during this series if it continues. Portland is not your typical eight-seed and are proving to be a tough first-round opponent.
Vogel on sustaining defense against Blazers
The Trail Blazers were the most effective scoring team in the bubble, and slowing them down has to be the focus if the Lakers hope to make it out of the first round.
Los Angeles did as good a job as anyone could hope for by holding Portland to only 100 points. While the offense should hopefully steady itself, maintaining that level of defensive effort is what will decide the series.
“They’re as dynamic as it comes and this offense is as dynamic as it comes,” Vogel said. “Inside the bubble their offensive rating was 124. Dallas was the best offense in the history of basketball with an offensive rating of 117 (during the regular season).
“Portland was 124 in the bubble, but they were 98 [Tuesday] night, so I was very pleased with what we did on the defensive end and i’m confident we can sustain it while understanding what those guys are capable of.”
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