The LA Lakers were at their imperious best in Game 4 of the Western Conference playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Purple and Gold controlled the game from start to finish as they walloped their counterparts 135-115 on a night where they broke a few franchise playoff records.
The LA Lakers had already rushed to a commanding 29-point lead against the Portland Trail Blazers by the end of the first but Anthony Davis had to exit the game due to back spasms. Damian Lillard also hobbled off with an ankle issue which meant that we were in for an extended period of garbage time.
Without further ado, let us look at the five talking points from Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs between LA Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers.
#1 LA Lakers offense finally catches up to their defense
Entering this game, the LA Lakers entered this game with the best defensive rating in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. However, their offensive rating was only the 11th best. But tonight, LeBron James and co. truly showed their ability to go berserk while going forward.
Frank Vogel's men already had 11 makes from downtown by the end of the second quarter and eventually broke the Lakers' franchise record in the playoffs again by ending the night with 17 of the same.
The LA Lakers like playing fast on offense and they did exactly that against the Portland Trail Blazers. They made them pay for every possible turnover or quick change of possession and had 25 fastbreak points for their exploits.
The Lakers showed just how difficult they can be to deal with when both their offense and defense are clicking in high gear.
#2 Jusuf Nurkic shows up for the Portland Trail Blazers but the rest falter
Jusuf Nurkic received a lot of flak for his performance late in Game 3 where he looked seriously out of gas and had a tough time defending the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, he did much better tonight. The big Bosnian brought the energy that was expected of him to make the night difficult for the LA bigs.
Nurkic couldn't do much about the brilliant offense of the LA Lakers but he was the only one keeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the game by the smallest of margins. As Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum couldn't get their shots to fall, Nurk had 15 first-half points and 8 rebounds.
Sure, the LA Lakers were already out of sight by then but had the Portland center not played his part, his side could've been in an even terrible position at the break. Nurkic ended the night with 20 points on 70% shooting in addition to his 13 boards.
#3 LA Lakers play well collectively to make it look like a lopsided series
Before the start of this series, there were serious concerns about the possibility of an upset. Portland Trail Blazers were at the top of their game heading into the playoffs while the LA Lakers didn't seem like they were ready yet. Even though they were expected to eventually win this series, people thought Portland could give the Purple and Gold serious trouble.
While Damian Lillard and co. did win the first game of the series, it was mainly due to the LA Lakers' terrible offense. Terry Stotts' side was already nowhere close to its usual force on offense. And now that the first seed in the West has decided to turn on the afterburners, the series looks done.
Portland's reliance on Lillard to bail them out of games hasn't done them any favors because the LA Lakers have found a way to restrict him. And with him out of the equation, LeBron James and co. have piled on the misery regularly. It would take a miracle for the Portland Trail Blazers to even force a Game 6 from here.
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#4 Damian Lillard's injury only adds to Portland Trail Blazers' woes
Damian Lillard has by far been the biggest resistive force for the Portland Trail Blazers in games not going their way since the NBA restart. So him managing only 11 points in 26 minutes in Game 4 didn't help at all.
There was some more bad news to follow, as Lillard suffered a right knee injury during the third quarter and had to leave. The fact that it was a non-contact affliction only makes matters worse for the Portland Trail Blazers. Him getting ruled out of the next game would most likely imply curtains for this team.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis also left the court in the third quarter but he later confirmed that it was just the team being cautious.
#5 You don't bet against LeBron James in the NBA Playoffs
LeBron James did all sorts of things in the first two games of this series but he was neither too efficient from the field, nor was he scoring at a high volume. He rectified that in the last outing but continued on the same tonight, scoring 30 points on 83% shooting from the field.
LeBron James was especially incredible from downtown, as he torched the Portland Trail Blazers by making four of his five three-point attempts. He added another 10 assists and six rebounds to cap off Game 4.
Given the player he is, the LA Lakers leader has had naysayers all along. It was no different when the trolls came along at the start of the NBA Playoffs. But if you're a betting man, you always put your money on King James when the postseason rolls around, not against him.
Published 25 Aug 2020, 10:55 IST