Thursday, October 18 at 10:30 PM ET
The Los Angeles Lakers start the LeBron James era with a visit to a Portland Trail Blazers team with a lot to prove.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers finished with a 35-47 record last season but they're an improved team right now and making a playoff run is more than possible. Los Angeles signed LeBron James to a four-year, $153.3 million contract while keeping young, talented players like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart and adding Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley for experience and depth.
Los Angeles should reach the playoffs and having LeBron James can help them challenge Golden State and Houston in the Western Conference, that's just how good James is, his presence alone makes the whole team, particularly their promising young core better, the only questions are how soon and how much.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers won the Northwest Division after a 49-33 finish in the regular season but they were swept by the Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs, so you can expect them to play with a chip on their shoulders all year long.
Portland was not very active in the offseason, they did sign Nik Stauskas and Seth Curry for veteran help and drafted Anfernee Simmons and Gary Trent Jr. to supplement a starting lineup that still includes Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic but they lost Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton. The Trail Blazers have one of the most productive backcourts in the league and young talent coming in but how far can they go in the playoffs?
The Under is:
8-2-1 in Los Angeles' last 11 games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
8-3-1 in Los Angeles' last 12 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
5-1 in Portland's last six Thursday games
4-1 in Portland's last five home games
5-1 in the last 6 meetings
Both teams have plenty of playmakers but this is a high total for a season opener, especially considering Portland's defensive prowess at home. There will be a lot of talent on the floor and each team can easily score over 100 points but it will not be enough to go Over this number.
NBA Pick: Under 220.5