Damian Lillard will get his first shot at NBA action against the Los Angeles Lakers as Portland tips off their preseason. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason Game 1 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Blazers: 0-0

Lakers: 0-1

Game Details: Citizens Business Bank Arena Ontario, CA. 7:00 PM TV: CSN. Radio: NewsRadio 1190 AM 102.3 KEX FM

Projected Blazers Starting Lineup: PG Damian Lillard (#0, 6’3”, Weber State), SG Wesley MatthewsG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5”, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8″, MSB LE Mans, France), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11”, Texas), C J.J. Hickson (#21, 6’9”, North Carolina State)

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup: PG Steve Nash (#10, 6’3”, Santa Clara), SG Kobe Bryant (#24, 6’6”, Lower Marion High School), SF Metta World Peace (#15, 6’7”, St. John’s), PF Pau Gasol (#16, 7′, FC Barcelona), C Robert Sacre (#50, 7′, Gonzaga)

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. I’m a firm believer that preseason games don’t matter. Win or lose. Play well or play poorly. It doesn’t matter.

What I’m hoping to see, and what we all should be hoping to see, is a Portland team that plays hard, plays smart, and doesn’t get hurt. 2012-13 is going to be a long campaign. Each night out the team is going to have to bring their best stuff, and even if they do they are still going to get beat more often than not.

The Lakers (the New/Old Look Lakeshow) are one of probably three teams that are a must-watch this season, along with the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The thing about the Lakers that is different than last season’s Finals participants, is that LA is on the shakiest of grounds. LA has an old roster, a bench that’s not too deep, and a new superstar in Dwight Howard whose juice might not be worth the squeeze.

That Laker team, the one that some people predict could win 70 games, will probably not be the team taking the court to face the Blazers tonight. That’s a good thing. Portland will have plenty of time to get whipped by LA when the games really matter.

Here’s a couple things to watch for:

  • Who plays: The starting lineup is set. What’s not set is the rotation. Guys like Joel Freeland, Luke Babbitt, and Nolan Smith will have plenty of chances to prove themselves and earn some minutes throughout the course of these meaningless games. Their first chance will be tonight. The guy to watch, as far as I’m concerned, is Freeland. He could be Portland’s X-factor.
  • Damian Lillard:This is his first chance post Summer League to show what he’s made of. Steve Nash is going to be a tough cover, but even though the 38 year-old is a two-time MVP, he’s not even close to the best guy Lillard will face.
  • Can Portland avoid getting hurt:Always an important question.


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Tags: Blazers Lakers Preseason

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