The Los Angeles Lakers limp into the offseason with more than half of their original roster injured as they take on the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers.
In what seems like a fitting end to the 2018-19 NBA season, Reggie Bullock, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Tyson Chandler will join LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart on the sidelines for the team’s final game of the 2018-19 NBA season.
The Lakers will instead be led by their G League affiliate players, whose effort and skill have actually propelled the team to three wins in their last five games and six wins in their last 10.
Alex Caruso, in particular, has absolutely proven he deserves a long-term spot on the Lakers roster. In the 17 games since joining the Lakers, Caruso is averaging 13.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Should the Lakers strike out on major free agent point guards, Caruso could be a perfect backup to Ball.
The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, will be getting CJ McCollum back on a minutes restriction to prepare for their playoff run. A win tonight would clinch them in the No. 4 spot, meaning they will likely take on the Utah Jazz in the first round. The Trail Blazers are hoping to exorcise their demons from last season’s sweep out of the first round at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans.
For the Lakers, a win would cement them in the No. 11 NBA Draft Lottery spot while a loss could boost them to No. 10. Either way, they’ll have a less than 15 percent chance at a top-four pick and an under three percent chance at the No. 1 pick.
The Lakers, in the final few games of the season, have done rather well against playoff teams, beating the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in back-to-back games.
Los Angeles Lakers (37-44) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (51-29)
7:30 P.M. PT, Apr. 9, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Alex Caruso
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Jemerrio Jones
PF: Moritz Wagner
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Mike Muscala, Johnathan Williams, Isaac Bonga
Projected Trail Blazers Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Moe Harkless
PF: Al Farouq-Aminu
C: Enes Kanter
Key Reserves: Zach Collins, Evan Turner, Seth Curry, Rodney Hood