All in all, the Game 1 result between the Lakers and Trail Blazers wasn't that shocking. We wrote last week that the Blazers had strong potential to give the Lakers a hard time in their first-round series. Tuesday was a perfect storm of the Lakers' ongoing issues and a surging Blazers team led by Damian Lillard, who is playing out of his mind in the bubble, converging to put LA in an early deficit.
If you look at the box score you'll see huge issues for the Lakers, most notably the fact that they shot 5-of-32 from the 3-point range. You're simply not going to win an NBA game in 2020 shooting like that. And while most everyone on the team didn't play great outside of LeBron James, who despite his triple-double would probably tell you he needs his game to go up another gear, Anthony Davis' performance should concern Lakers fans. Putting up 28 and 11 may look fine on paper, but if the Lakers want to go anywhere they need much more out of AD.
Not only do they need more, but they need him to play with more of an edge. The Blazers were more than happy to let AD jack up threes all night, where he's only a 33 percent shooter this season. He missed all five of his attempts, and despite the fact that he led the Lakers in attempted shots, was never really able to enforce his dominance. AD is the Lakers most dynamic scorer and needs to show it. He needs to continue to mix up the way he attacks the Blazers defense and not settle for long jumpers on the perimeter.
Really, the Lakers need Davis to play center, which is something he's long been against other than in short spurts. Because of this refusal, the Lakers are playing two bigs a lot of the time, which is clogging up the lane and making it much harder for LeBron and others to operate in space. The Lakers need to run way more action with Davis as the roller in the pick-and-roll with LeBron, which would then open up shooters in the corners. The Lakers need Davis to get more physical in the paint and not live on the outside for most of the game. He can't play like a 6'10" guard on the court. He has to assert some dominance in the paint or else this is going to get ugly for the Lakers real quick.
As the second star on this team, and one of the most elite players in the NBA, the Lakers need Davis to take advantage of the Blazers starting Wenyen Gabriel on him. That should be a matchup that Davis dominates and forces the Blazers to adjust to. There were way too many instances in Game 1 where the Blazers threw a double at Davis and he was too slow to react in the paint. The Blazers have bodies in Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic to throw at Davis, but should that really bother a player of his caliber that much? He can't settle for jumpers and long 2-pointers in this series. He's got to get into the paint and be a playmaker if the Lakers have any hopes of winning this series.
If not? Well, this could go south for the Lakers very quickly. They need Davis to be the max player that his contract says he is, and fast.