Lakers Advance to  Western Conference Semifinals

Lakers Advance to Western Conference Semifinals

     The Los Angeles Lakers have defeated the Portland Trailblazers 131-122 in game 5 of their first round series, and in doing so also closed out the series 4 games to 1. Lebron James and Anthony Davis were both dominant in leading Los Angeles to the win tonight scoring 36 and 43 respectively.  The Lakers started the playoffs much like their first seed counterpart in the East, as they lost their opening game similar to the Bucks.  Also like the Bucks, the Lakers stormed back the next four games, winning them all and leaving no doubt who the better team was.  

     Portland was the hot upset pick coming into the playoffs, after playing their way into the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference.  Thanks to stellar play by Trailblazers star Damian Lillard, experts and analysts from all around the league were calling them the best 8th seed ever, and going as far as to guarantee the upset.  Charles Barkley must have wanted to fire up Lebron James when he predicted that the Lakers would be swept out of the first round.  Well, after losing game 1 100-93, Lebron and company came out the with a high level of intensity early in game two and never looked back the rest of the series. The Lakers won games 2 through 5 by an average of 15 points per game, including blowouts in games 2 and 4.

      For the series Lebron averaged a triple double with 25.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 10.2 apg, while Davis tallied 26.5 ppg, and 9.5 rpg.  Lillard started the series on fire from the opening tip, but eventually a knee injury in game 4 ended his season early.  He averaged over 24 ppg for the series, while his teammates Cj McCollum and Carmelo Anthony both had solid performances as well, with McCollum averaging 20 ppg, and Anthony coming on strong late in the series with a 27 point performance in game 5.  The Lakers will wait and see who their next opponent is, getting some much needed rest while waiting for the Thunder and Rockets to finish their series. 

     If it is ultimately Houston who makes it out of the opening round like many believe will be the case, a Rockets-Lakers matchup would be exciting for several reasons.  First of all, it would pit two of the three MVP finalists against each other in Lebron, and James Harden.  These teams play completely different styles; Houston plays small ball and jacks up threes at a historic rate, while the Lakers are one of the biggest teams in the NBA and they do everything possible to lock you down defensively.  During the regular season, these two teams faced off 3 times with the Rockets winning twice.  

     Of course the Oklahoma City Thunder can’t be counted out just yet, but they are down in the series and were just blown out in game 5 by a Houston squad finally at full strength.  The Thunder would provide their own set of problems for the Lakers, but everyone watching is hoping to see a classic battle between two of the game’s best players and two of the leagues best teams.  The schedule for the Lakers second round series will be released once they know who their opponent will be.  Until then, expect Lebron, AD and the rest of the Lakers to get as much rest as possible so they can be ready to go against whoever they face next.

Photo Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network

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