Both teams are coming off exhilarating wins in their last games, with the Blazers outlasting the Houston Rockets 128-126 in overtime on Saturday while the Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-91 on Sunday.
Portland Trail Blazers vs LA Lakers: 3 key matchups to look out for
This game will not be lacking in stars, as Damian Lillard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis look to carry their teams to another win during the early stages of the 2020-21 regular season.
While James and Davis are listed as day-to-day, the duo could play, as the Portland Trail Blazers are no pushovers. On that note, let's have a look at five key matchups that could unfold in the game.
#1 Derrick Jones Jr. (Portland Trail Blazers) vs LeBron James (LA Lakers)
As athletic as Derrick Jones Jr. is, he could be giving up roughly 50 pounds to the 4-time MVP LeBron James. Jones is an excellent defender, and he showed the Portland Trail Blazers faithful just how valuable he can be when he guarded and harassed the Rockets wings on Saturday.
However, Jones will have his work cut out on Monday, as he will be up against LeBron James who orchestrated the LA Lakers’ dismantling of the Timberwolves on Sunday. In that game, James was as brilliant as ever and had a couple of dunks that were straight out of 2003 when he was still a rookie.
A former Miami Heat player, Jones will need help in containing James, who would look to come out strong to begin the first quarter.
#2 Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) vs Dennis Schroder (LA Lakers)
This point guard matchup is going to be an interesting one, as two of the most competitive little men in the competition go head-to-head.
Damian Lillard had a sub-par shooting game (11-of-28 from the field) on Saturday but still ended up with 32 points. The Portland Trail Blazers guard has a 3-point shooting ability from way beyond the arc.
If Lillard gets cooking early, the LA Lakers will have to help Dennis Schroder or have someone bigger, stronger and longer to guard the Trail Blazers guard. One thing that Schroder won’t do though is back down from a challenge.
Nevertheless, Lillard will have to bring his A-game on as well at the other end of the court, as Schroder is one of the sneakiest and most aggressive point guards in the game.
#3 Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trail Blazers) vs Anthony Davis (LA Lakers)
Jusuf Nurkic saw his productivity drop this season compared to his exploits in the previous campaign.
He is averaging 12.5 points and seven rebounds per game, a far cry from his career-high of 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds a game he averaged last season. Nevertheless, Nurkic will have his hands full trying to stop the LA Lakers’ versatile big man.
Anthony Davis sat out the Timberwolves game but he could play on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. However, the LA Lakers will have to monitor Davis’ performance and see if he is inhibited by the calf strain he suffered against the LA Clippers on the opening night of the season. If there is even an inkling of discomfort, he will likely be pulled out by coach Frank Vogel.
However, if the matchup does happen, it could belong to the LA Lakers big man, as he will likely play with cautiousness at the beginning before taking advantage of his speed against Jusuf Nurkic.