IMPORTANT NOTE: The game we’re talking about happened last night (as of this writing), so we’ll update the story as needed. In Game One of their NBA Playoff series, the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 100-93.
Setting the WayBack Machine for just a few minutes before the actual game was played last night, Shaq and fellow TNT Inside the NBA commentator Charles Barkley had quite the animated and funny discussion of the upcoming contest. Of course Shaq is a former Laker – one of the greats of all time – and he’s still got lots of good insights into the team and its current lineup and playing style.
So before gametime, Shaq and Sir Charles were discussing the upcoming game. The “Big Diesel” sent a serious warning to his former team (and former teammate, LeBron James): do not allow the Blazers to win Game 1.
Shaq’s idea was this: The Lakers need to establish themselves as the dominant team instantly in Game 1 and avoid leaving the door open for Portland at all. As Shaq said, the Blazers look like sharks in the water with the way they are playing and when sharks smell blood, they attack. Quite the interesting comment, since Shaq was just on the super-popular “Shark Week” series!
Now as we said, the game definitely went against the Lakers. They looked a little stale, and the Blazers got big performances from Damian Lillard and others. NBA history note: the last time a first seed lost in the first round against an eighth seed was the 2011 San Antonio Spurs, who lost four games to two against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies won Game 1.
The only other eighth seed to beat the first seed since the NBA Playoffs moved to a seven-game format in the first round (the first round was a five-game series up until 2003) was the 2007 Golden State Warriors, who dethroned the Dallas Mavericks four games to two.
Barkley went on record to say the Lakers would lose to the Blazers…and they did! He went another BIG step, saying if the Blazers did win Game 1, they could “sweep” the Lakers! And in a very funny scene after the game, when the network went back to the Inside the NBA studios, there was Sir Charles, broom in hand, “sweeping” the back of the studio!
Game factoids from last night: Lillard had 34 points and the Portland Trail Blazers spoiled LeBron James’ first playoff appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers with a 100-93 victory on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series.
As for James: 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists. Even in a losing effort, that was a huge deal, as LeBron became the first player to have as many points, rebounds and assists in the playoffs. It was his 24th postseason triple-double and his assists were a career playoff high.
Talking about the loss afterwards: ”We had a couple of breakdowns, which you can’t have down the stretch, especially against a team like Portland,” James said.
Talk about history for the Blazers! Portland won the first play-in postseason NBA game since 1956 (more than a half-CENTURY ago!), beating Memphis 126-122 on Saturday to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Blazers were among three teams with losing overall records to make the bubble playoffs. No team below .500 had advanced to the postseason since 2015.