Potential 2011 Playoff Preview: Lakers vs. Trail Blazers

Perhaps the Blazers versus Lakers “rivalry” isn’t what it use to be.  Okay, let’s face it; there was no rivalry to begin with (sorry citizens of Portland).  Sure the Jail-Blazers of old are long gone.  No registered sex offenders (Ruben Patterson) or Rasheed Wallace instigating brawls with his teammates.

Indeed, the Rose Garden has a much different tone these days.  Young, up-and-coming, and not a team the Lakers would want to deal with in the first round in route to their third consecutive NBA Championship.

Led by French small-forward Nicolas Batum and elastic LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers have the ability to force a possible Lakers first-round matchup to seven games–akin to the Celtics seven-game battle with the Atlanta Hawks in 2008.

The Blazers are currently sixth in the Western Conference standings a half game in front of the New Orleans Hornets (who just lost PF David West for the season with a knee injury) and two games behind the surging Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers 84-80 win over the Blazers at home on March 20 (without suspended center Andrew Bynum) was a great test for the battle-tested Lakers team, who are winners of 13 of their last 14 games.

With three straight losses to the Lakers, the Blazers lost the season series for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Next: Problems in the Past

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