LeBron James’ Western Conference Playoff Debut Did Not Go the Way He Planned

LeBron James returned to the playoffs, but this time he’s not playing in the Eastern Conference. He made his Western Conference playoff debut as the LA Lakers suffered a 100-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Trail Blazers, the No. 8 seed, came ready to play the top-seeded Lakers. This is not how James wanted to start the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

The last time LeBron James lost Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs

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During the 2018 NBA Playoffs, James had an incredible streak come to an end. His 21 straight first-round playoff victories came to an end after the Cleveland Cavaliers loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the first round. James has been dominant in the first round of the playoffs in the past. He was a part of teams that swept the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and Indiana Pacers. That’s four consecutive playoffs without losing a game, an impressive stat.

When the Cavaliers lost to the Pacers in Game 1, that was the first time James lost the first game of a first-round series in his career. The Cavaliers were the No. 4 seed, and the Pacers were the No. 5 seed. James put together a productive performance as he finished with 24 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. His performance was not enough as the Cavaliers suffered a 98-80 loss.

The Cavaliers went on to defeat the Pacers in seven games, despite suffering the loss in Game 1. James helped lead Cleveland to the 2018 NBA Finals, where the Golden State Warriors swept them. That was James’ final appearance with the Cavaliers. Throughout his career, James has had a lot of success during the playoffs.

What went wrong for the Lakers during Game 1?

The Lakers went into the playoffs looking to start on a strong note. But the Trail Blazers looked to continue their exceptional performance on the court, and that’s what they did during Game 1. The Lakers have a size advantage over the Trail Blazers, but that did not stop Portland from pulling out the victory. Portland outshot LA in field goal, 3-point, and free-throw percentage. That’s an area where Portland will need to succeed if they want to win the series.

The Lakers started the game off slow and could not stop the Trail Blazers as they took a 16-point lead in the opening period. The Lakers were able to make a comeback until the fourth quarter hit. That’s when Damian Lillard showed why he’s been the best player in the league since the NBA returned. Lillard helped Portland go on a 19-6 run to end the game, and he finished with 34 points.

James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers in scoring. Davis had 28 points, and James had a triple-double with 23 points, 16 assists, and 17 rebounds. But that wasn’t enough for the Lakers. LA did not get the help from their big men as JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard finished with a combined 10 points. The Lakers will need to dominate in the paint because they have the size advantage over Portland. If they can do that throughout the series, they will have a good chance of moving on to the next round.

LeBron James starts his Western Conference debut with a loss

James helped lead the Lakers to the top seed in the west for the first time since the 2010 NBA Playoffs when they won their last NBA title. With James not playing in the Eastern Conference anymore, he’s trying to succeed and win a few titles. It will be a challenge for James if he wants to lead the Lakers to the championship, and it starts with the first round.

With the Lakers losing Game 1, James will regroup and find a way for his team to succeed throughout the remainder of the series. The last time an eighth seed defeated the No. 1 seed in the first round came in 2011 when the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs 4-2. James does not want to be bounced from the playoffs in the first round, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to lead his team to the NBA finals.