Throughout the 2019-20 season, the LA Lakers have been pinned as one of the top teams in the league. The Lakers have garnered the recognition as a legitimate title contender behind their stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, there is one team that some are starting to believe who could derail them in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Lakers clinch top seed in the West
The Lakers entered the restarted season in the Orlando bubble situation with an opportunity to lock into the top overall spot in the Western Conference.
LA has taken care of business by winning two out of their first three games by topping the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz. That has seen Anthony Davis head the charge with his offensive production as he posted a pair of 30-point performances in each contest. That saw Davis and LeBron James become the first play of Lakers teammates to record 20 30-point games in a season since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in the 2002-03 campaign.
LA is locked into the top overall seed in the Western Conference for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Despite that being the case, some don’t completely trust the Lakers coming out of the Western Conference. There has been one team that could upset them.
Blazers believed to be strong threat to Lakers
The Lakers have predictably secured the top spot in the Western Conference.
However, there is a growing buzz around the Portland Trail Blazers due to how strong they look since the season restarted. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, some league insiders believe that the Trail Blazers could be a real threat to take out the Lakers in the playoffs.
“One said that the compact comeback could be a true equalizer. Example: Some league insiders see Portland as a threat to upset the Lakers in a first-round series after welcoming back its previously ailing frontcourt pair of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The other executive, by contrast, described the eight seeding games all teams must play before the postseason as a lengthy runway that will afford the Lakers, the Bucks and the Clippers time to regain their March form.”
The Blazers have taken it up a notch since the season restart as they have won two out of their first three games that includes an impressive win over the Houston Rockets. Portland still has an uphill battle to secure the last playoff spot, which they trail the Memphis Grizzlies by 1.5 games. If things remain the same, the Trail Blazers could force a play-in for that final postseason position.
The Blazers are back to full strength with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back in the mix that has given them much-needed depth. That could make them a dangerous team if they make the playoffs, which it’s hard to imagine the Lakers overlooking any opponent, let alone Portland.
Pressure is on LA
Since the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis last offseason, the high level of expectations has been on the team.
LA has continued to show reasons why they are one of the favorites to compete for an NBA title. They have put together a veteran-laden roster led by Davis and James that has led them to feature tremendous success on both ends of the floor. However, their title chances will hinge on the play of their two stars.
James has proven himself in the playoffs throughout his career, especially the last decade, while it’s an opportunity for Davis to make his mark. LA has the talent to make a deep playoff push, which will have challenges along the way with possibly the Trail Blazers, Clippers, Jazz, and Rockets. It’s on them to make the most of the opportunity ahead.