Prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster Friday night. The Los Angeles Lakers play their first game since the tragic accident that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others on Sunday. The Portland Trail Blazers travel head south for a showdown at Staples Center, the house that Kobe built.
Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 pm ET, after what should be an emotional pregame. The Lakers are 3-3 in their last six games. Philadelphia, Boston, and Orlando have all beaten the Western Conference-leading Lakers in the last couple of weeks.
Portland is also 3-3 in its last six games, as the Mavericks have gotten them twice, and they also lost to Oklahoma City on the road. Portland is currently on the outskirts of the playoff picture, but it only trails the Grizzlies by three games. The Trail Blazers can’t afford to get much farther away from the eight spot.
Here is a betting preview of a game that will likely take a backseat to the celebration of Bryant on Friday.
Blazing, Kind Of
The Blazers seem to be in the same position each season, good enough to make the playoffs, not good enough to win a championship. Rodney Hood and Jusuf Nurkic have been ruled out indefinitely, so the Blazers have to move forward without them.
Carmelo Anthony made his return to the NBA with the Trail Blazers and has played well in his 33 starts, averaging 15.6 points and 6.7 boards per game.
Hassan Whiteside has brought the intensity from Miami to Portland this season. The big man is averaging 15.6 points and 14 rebounds on the season. He may not have Nurkic’s shooting ability, but he can bang with the bigs down low with the best of them.
More Than Basketball
For the Lakers, Friday night’s game means so much more than just basketball. I’m sure there won’t be a dry eye in Staples Center. The question becomes, will they play great in Kobe’s honor, or will they be too overcome with emotion to remain focused on basketball.
It honestly wouldn’t surprise anyone if LeBron James put this team on his back the rest of the way in honor of his fallen hero.
James and Anthony Davis have led the Lakers to 36 wins already, with a three-game lead in the Western Conference. They combine for over 50 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists a game.
Davis and fellow big man Javale McGee are both day-to-day headed into Friday night, so it’s up in the air if Davis’ production will be available.
The Night of Remembrance
It’ll be a night of remembering and honoring a legend at Staples Center. A night you won’t want to miss.
Only two teams in the league have covered the spread less than the Blazers. They’ve only covered 18 times this season. The Lakers haven’t been extremely proficient at covering either, as they are 24-21-1 against the spread this season.
The Lakers are favored by 13 with an over/under of 230 in this showdown. Personally, I was hoping for a spread of 8 or 24, but 13 works. Be sure to tune in for a once-in-a-lifetime tribute.