The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks have restored some sense of normalcy to these anything-but-normal NBA playoffs.
The top-seeded teams in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively, lost their openers and are now looking to take control of their series. The Lakers could pull ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and the Bucks could take the lead on the pesky Orlando Magic.
Lakers forward LeBron James has been around too long to get too worked up about one loss. He was confident the Lakers would recover from their Game 1 setback, and they looked much like their pre-pandemic selves in beating the Trail Blazers 111-88 on Thursday.
“I know what we’re capable of,” he said. “I know how we’re built. I don’t compare us to anyone. I compare us to us.”
The Lakers were fully aware of the challenge they would face against from the talented Blazers entering the series, led by All-Star guard Damian Lillard.
“This team was in the conference finals last year,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “They have the ability to be one of the best teams in the NBA. I don’t view it as an underdog matchup. They’re a heavyweight the way they play and with a player like Dame Lillard.”
Lillard dislocated the index finger on his left hand on Thursday. Portland coach Terry Stotts said Friday that Lillard received treatment throughout the day and he is expected to play with a splint.
Milwaukee bounced back from its opening loss to Orlando by rolling past the Magic 111-96 on Thursday. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 20 rebounds.
Game 1 was humbling for the team with the league’s best record. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, said the Bucks were better focused in Game 2.
They’ll need that same focus in Game 3.
Collins needs surgery
Trail Blazers forward Zach Collins will need surgery on his left ankle and is done for the season.
Collins was diagnosed with a hairline medial malleolus stress fracture of his left ankle, the Blazers announced Friday.
Collins, 22, appeared in 11 games (all starts) for the Blazers this season, posting averages of 7.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists.