The Blazers and Lakers will meet in Orlando for Game 5 on Saturday, with Portland trying to keep the series going. Damian Lillard is not walking through that door, though, as he’s back home with his family. Thumb and knee injuries ended his season early.

And so, that missing offense will fall to the shoulders of CJ McCollum to pick up the slack. They still have some real talent here, but will be mismatched. Lillard as the engine that made the team go, and with him out, everything will be different. They may have to wait for next year.

The Lakers have their opponents right where they want them, backs against the wall. Their stars have stepped up when they have most needed to, and if they can do that tonight, the series will be reaching its end. 

The Lakers, should they win, will turn their attention to the Houston-OKC series, as they would play the winner in the next round in what would be a highly contested battle.

ODDS:

The Lakers are a whopping 13.5-point favorite tonight. The over/under is set at 223.5.

Portland on the Brink

The chances they win tonight are relatively small if you’re honest about it. Even with Lillard, they have struggled with size issues and getting enough open looks to keep them in the games. Their effort in game one showed people they could beat the big dogs, but people forgot that adjustments are made over the course of the series.

Gary Trent Jr. likely slides into the starting lineup now, with Anfernee Simons taking on a large bench role. But it isn’t only missing Lillard that hurts. Nassir Little, Trevor Ariza, and Zach Collins are all out of the lineup. That’s a combination of size, length, and shooting not out there on the floor. And it’s tough to perform with them not there.

If they want to have any chance, they will need to start strong. Coming back against the Lakers is extremely difficult.

Lakers Look to Close Out

One more win, and the Lakers advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. It’s been way too long for this storied franchise to go without a playoff series win. This is the time for them to step on the gas and go full throttle from the opening tip. LeBron James and Anthony Davis will look to put the series to bed. 

Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have finally stepped up in the last few games after a long struggle. And JR Smith has provided a nice defensive lift off the bench with Alex Caruso. They’ll eventually need Rajon Rondo, but Caruso continues to hold it down for now.

One Lakers win, and the series will be done with and over. All signs point towards that happening on Saturday.

Lakers End the Series

A big night for Davis will lift the Lakers to a series win to put the series to bed. Portland gave it a good effort, but it’s over.

FREE PLAY: LAL -13.5