After being beaten in Game 1 of their series against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers “need to be worried” heading into Game 2, says Mike Tuck.
Live NBA: Portland @LA Lakers GM 2
Friday 21st August 2:00am
NBA first-round playoff games live on Sky Sports
- Gm 2: Trail Blazers @ Lakers | Friday 2am | Sky Sports Arena
- Gm 3: Clippers @ Mavericks | Saturday 2am | Sky Sports Arena
- Gm 3: Heat @ Pacers | Saturday 8:30pm | Sky Sports Arena
- Gm 4: Celtics @ 76ers | Sunday 6pm | Sky Sports Arena
- Gm 4: Lakers @ Trail Blazers | Tuesday 2am | Sky Sports Arena
‘The Lakers need to be worried’
We have a Lakers team that was peaking before the bubble back in March. Ever since they entered the bubble they have looked different. They did not come out how I expected them to in Game 1 against the Blazers. There was no perimeter defense, especially down the stretch.
The cracks are starting to show for the Lakers. They are definitely missing Rajon Rondo and the defense of Avery Bradley. For them to bounce back into the series, their perimeter defense needs to improve.
We also saw a lot of minutes going to Danny Green, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. ‘KCP’ was 0-for-9 in 29 minutes, Caruso was 1-for-6, Green did not have an outstanding performance. Overall, they shot 5-of-32 from three-point range.
The Lakers need more production from their wing players. These guys have to step up. You cannot just be out there not doing anything.
Another problem they have is this Trail Blazers team is playing more like a third or fourth seed than an eighth seed. Damian Lillard is the best player in the league right now, the bubble MVP. He has so much momentum behind him.
Anthony Davis had 21 points in the first half of Game 1 and finished with 28 points. We did not see much production from him down the stretch. He looked super-active early – and LeBron James looked like he was trying to find him and other early in the game – but that dropped off.
This is the playoffs and ‘AD’ has to step up to the challenge. You can average your 25 a game in the regular season but you have to add five, six or seven onto that in the playoffs. You have to pick it up and carry that load on your shoulders.
The Lakers need to start taking advantage of where their strengths are, and that is obviously with their bigs. They need to start finding AD in better spots – mid-range, in the post, on pick-and-roll situations. For LeBron, he needs to start looking for his shots a little bit more.
The Lakers will make adjustment for Game 2. They have two guys – Dion Waiters and JR Smith – who did not play many (or in Smith’s case, any) minutes in the opener who can both get hot from three-point range. They are shot creators and Waiters can also give you a little bit on defense. You will see less minutes for Caruso and ‘KCP’ and Green will come out with a chip on his shoulder. He is a proven guy and has been in these situations before. He needs to knock down shots when the opportunities come.
‘Bucks were terrible’ in Game 1 loss
The Orlando Magic looked great in their surprise win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1. That’s all it was for me. It eerily resembles how they played last year in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors.
It was Nikola Vucevic’s night and the Bucks had no answer for him. I love his game. He is so efficient. He doesn’t take bad shots and the one he takes he makes. He rarely shows emotion and just put his head down and works.
The Bucks did not have their usual consistency. Khris Middleton only had 14 points. We did not see typical performances from Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and others.
Giannis Antetokounmpo cannot do this all by himself, he needs some help. Middleton needs to have bigger games and they need a consistent third scorer on the team. Lopez is quieter than last year. They need that third guy and I think it is Bledsoe whose biggest weakness is his outside shooting.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer also has Donte DiVincenzo sitting there who can probably give him some good minutes. He is not the strongest ball handler but he is not afraid to shoot the ball. He is a guy who could step up for Milwaukee.
Overall, I’m not too worried about the Bucks in this series. The Magic had an incredibly good first outing, came out with some fire and got contributions from all their players in Game 1.
The Bucks were terrible. They know they were terrible. But they have been here before. They will go back to the drawing board and you will see bigger performances from their secondary players and role players in Game 2.
The bigger threat to the Bucks – I am assuming they get through this first round – is going to come from the Miami Heat. I originally thought the Bucks had an easy road through the East but the way Miami are playing I would be worried about Milwaukee in the second round. But obviously they have to get past this Orlando team first.
Should Budenholzer be shortening his rotation? Eleven players had double-figure minutes in Game 1. That is not allowing your primary guys – your top six or seven men – to build momentum or rhythm and confidence, which are huge in the playoffs. You have to build confidence around your core guys so they can build rhythm and stay used to playing with each other.
I expect the Bucks to level the series in Game 2, but they will need to play some defense. Put the clamps on the Magic, especially Vucevic.