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Can Damian Lillard and the Blazers Actually Beat LeBron’s Lakers in Round 1? | Bleacher Report

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard reacts after making a three-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

All the Portland Trail Blazers wanted heading into the NBA‘s Disney World bubble was a real chance to make the playoffs. They got one, and they took full advantage of it, punching their ticket to a seventh consecutive postseason after pulling out a 126-122 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference play-in game Saturday to set up a first-round matchup with the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though plenty of buzz surrounds the Blazers as a potential upset candidate in the wake of Damian Lillard‘s otherworldly performance in the eight seeding games (37.6 PPG, 9.6 APG) and the triumphant return of Jusuf Nurkic from a broken leg, continuing this unlikely run against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. will be a tall task. Maybe an insurmountable one, as impressive as Portland has been in Florida.

“They’re the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason,” Lillard said after the game. “They’ve got the best player in the world on their team. But at the same time, we didn’t fight as hard as we thought in the bubble to just say, ‘All right, we’re the eighth seed’ and just go out here and get beat up on.”

The Lakers haven’t been impressive in the Orlando-area bubble, which might not mean much. LeBron’s most recent Cleveland Cavaliers teams spent four seasons looking tired and disjointed in the regular season, only to flip a switch in the playoffs and make a run to the Finals each time. And all due respect to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but James never had a running mate as good as Davis in Cleveland.

This is a series in which the Blazers will seriously miss Trevor Ariza, who opted out of playing in the restart because of a family situation. Ariza isn’t the lockdown perimeter defender he was five years ago, but he was solid this season for Portland after heading over from Sacramento in a January trade.

He’d at least be better equipped to handle James than anyone on Portland’s roster. The task of matching up with James for a full seven-game series will be left to Carmelo Anthony (a better defender than he’s given credit for, but not close to “defend LeBron in the playoffs” good) and the scrappy but foul-prone Gary Trent Jr.

Davis, too, poses a matchup problem for Portland. Nurkic has been a defensive game-changer in the bubble, but he struggled greatly against Davis in the 2018 playoffs, when the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans swept the Blazers in the first round.

Nurkic will be spelled by Hassan Whiteside, who is athletic enough to match Davis jump for jump but far too inconsistent to be counted on against that level of talent. Whiteside was excellent in the Blazers’ season-saving win Thursday over the Brooklyn Nets but a massive liability in the play-in game against Memphis. That’s been his story in the bubble—and really, all season.

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

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Also present in that 2018 Blazers-Pelicans series but missing in this matchup: “Playoff Rondo,” the mythical form the otherwise well-past-his-prime Rajon Rondo takes at this time of the year. The Lakers point guard recently arrived in the Orlando area to continue his rehab from a fractured hand but remains out.

Rondo and Avery Bradley, who opted out for family reasons, would likely have spent the most time guarding Lillard in the series. Now, that’s a tall order for Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. A huge series from Lillard against the Lakers’ weakened backcourt is a good possibility, but it may not be enough.

The Blazers went 7-2 after the restart (counting the play-in game) purely by outscoring their opponents. They only gave up fewer than 120 points twice, and fewer than 115 once. On the season, their defense was fourth-worst in the league, giving up 114.3 points per 100 possessions. The prospect of beating a team with James and Davis in a pure scoring contest is a dicey one, especially as the Blazers lack the personnel to defend either player.

If Portland is to have a chance, the team’s role players need to outplay L.A.’s.

Trent has shot the lights out and will have to continue to do so (he’d already started to come back to earth after a scorching first four games). The best version of Whiteside will need to show up for a whole series. They must find a way to survive the Mario Hezonja minutes. Lakers sharpshooter Danny Green has struggled in the bubble, and Caruso and Caldwell-Pope will have their work cut out for them on the defensive end with Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The idea that the Blazers can continue this hot streak and become the first No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the 76ers beat the Bulls in 2012 is a tantalizing storyline. But any talk of their actually having a chance may be rooted in the tendency of LeBron teams to lull opponents and observers into complacency with listless regular-season play.

If you think James, after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2005, isn’t saving himself to make a statement in the opening round that the West is the Lakers’ to lose, well, you haven’t watched him.

Still, Lillard packed three months’ worth of clothes. He already faced long odds to drag the Blazers into the playoffs over the last two weeks, and he beat them. He isn’t ready to go home.

“We feel like we have a chance in a series against anybody in this league,” Lillard said. “We feel like we’ve got a chance in this series. That’s how we’re gonna approach it.”

               

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Sean Highkin covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and co-hosts the Bulls vs. Blazers podcast. He is currently based in Portland. His work has been honored by the Pro Basketball Writers’ Association. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and in the B/R App.

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A BOLA – Leo Martins among the finalists for the title of the best player in the world (beach soccer)

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A BOLA - Leo Martins among the finalists for the title of the best player in the world (beach soccer)

Leo Martins is among the top three beach soccer players in the world. The national team player has been nominated for the award at the Beach Soccer Stars 2021 event scheduled for November 6 in Dubai.

This season, the player won the European title for the third time from Portugal and was recognized as the best player in the Europa League, and also won the Portuguese Cup and the Portuguese Championship from SC Braga, finishing second. in the European Championship for the Minho club.

Speaking to the Portuguese Football Federation, Leo Martins was proud of this award: “I am very happy, this is the result of a lot of work. Now we need to wait to see who will be the winner. To be honest, I never really thought about this reality. However, from the moment we started promoting this opportunity, the truth is that expectation and hope began to arise in us. Now that I am among the top three finalists, it is clear that this is becoming the goal. I am very calm, I believe and believe that the result will be the best, ”the player said.

The Portuguese national team player also analyzed this moment, which allowed him to be among the nominees: “When I look at my path, I get emotional when I remember the people who helped me get here. I thank God, my family, my wife, my brother Bee Martins, and also Bruno Torres. To all my SC Braga and national teammates and their coaches. I dedicate this date to all of them. Without them, I could not be at this level. “

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Philippe Borer (Switzerland) and Ozu Moreira (Japan) also claim to be the best beach soccer player in the world, and none of the three finalists have such a distinction in their curriculum. To win the award, Leo Martins will replace another Portuguese: Jordan Santos, the current title holder, won in 2019.

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A BOLA – “I had offers from FC Porto and Atletico Madrid and I made the right choice” (Brazil)

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A BOLA - “I had offers from FC Porto and Atletico Madrid and I made the right choice” (Brazil)

Brazilian striker Hulk recalled the reason why he moved to Porto in 2008, when he had an offer from Atletico Madrid.

“When I was at Vilanovens, I was taken to the Porto match. When I entered Estádio das Antas, the stands were full. He said that one day he will play there and go down in the history of this club. And when I received an offer, I remembered that moment. I was destined to wear the FC Porto jersey, ”says the Brazilian striker, recalling that he had the opportunity to choose between dragons and Atlético Madrid:“ Atletico is a club respected all over the world, a great team, but I chose FC ” Porto “and made the right choice.”

FC Porto was my gateway to the world of football, it gave me fame and made me recognizable and respected. I started my career at Vitoria da Bahia and then left for Japan. I came to Porto at the age of 22 and this was one of the most important stages in which I played. Little was known of me, and in a short time I won a place and respect at the club and in the country, playing in the Champions League and made history with Porto. I really love this club. It’s nice to be among the top eleven institutions with over 120 years of history, ”he added.

Now beaming with Atlético Mineiro’s jersey, Hulk was asked if he plans to return to European football: “I have been at Atlético for eight months and it looks like I arrived yesterday. I feel good here. It’s nice to come back to my country after 16 years and do a good job at the club that opened the doors for me. Now I don’t see myself in another club. But you never know what will happen tomorrow and whether I will play again in Europe. “

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A BOLA – FC Porto defeats Benfica and strengthens leadership (speed skating)

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A BOLA - FC Porto defeats Benfica and strengthens leadership (speed skating)

Porto beat Benfica 4-3 in the derby and maintains the lead in the national roller hockey championship. Carlo Di Benedetto (3) and Gonzalo Alves scored goals for dragons, while Carlos Nicolia (2) and Lucas Ordonez scored goals for eagles.

“Dragons” with a fatal blow quickly arrived with a score of 3: 0, the result fell on the break.

In an additional stage, the scenario was changed, Benfica reacted energetically, scored two goals in the first three minutes and soon managed to achieve a draw.

However, blue and white returned to the attack and eventually managed to return to the leader of the marker without losing it anymore. Thus, Ricardo Ares’ team won the seventh victory in the same number of games (21 points), while the Reds added a fourth defeat in seven games, thus retaining the 9 points they scored on this seventh journey.

Watch a live movie:

End of the match

50 minutes – Blue card to Benfica coach Nuno Resende for protests.

50 minutes – Gonçalo Alves, transforming the free kick, allows Pedro Henriquez to defend again.

50 minutes – Fifteenth foul by Benfica. Direct free kick for Porto with 14 seconds remaining.

47 minutes is a time discount requested by Benfica coach Nuno Resende.

45 minutes – everything is open in the last five minutes of the match. Porto win 4-3, they could have increased the score, but Benfica also had opportunities to score. These will be crazy final moments at the Dragão Arena …

43 minutes – Gonçalo Alves free-kick allows Pedro Henriquez to defend.

43 minutes – Tenth foul by Benfica. We will have a free kick for Porto.

43 minutes – After the help of Telmo Pinto, Rafa was the first to shoot Pedro Henriquez’s beautiful performance.

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40 minutes – long-range shot by Ezequiel Mena, protected by Pedro Henriquez’s mask.

38 minutes – FC Porto goal… Carlo Di Benedetto, already on the court, runs great and scores. 4-3

37 minutes – Great opportunity for Benfica: Lucas Ordonez’s strong shot from Xavi Maliana’s crossbar.

37 minutes – Great opportunity for Porto: Carlo Di Benedetto, unopposed, hits just above Pedro Henriquez’s goal.

35 minutes – After the first ten minutes of the second half at Dragão Arena, everything turned out to be a draw. Benfica responded perfectly to the disadvantage (0: 3), with which they left for the break, and in the first moments of the extra stage managed to draw thanks to goals from Carlos Nicolia (2) and Lucas. Ordonez. In the chapter on dragon fouls 11 (Benfica already took advantage of the free kick, while the dragons committed the tenth foul) and Eagles 9 (for the next violation, FC Porto penalizes with a free kick). …

34 minutes – Goal Benfica… Lucas Ordonez, dodging the mark of Gonçalo Alves, shoots at 3-3

33 minutes is a time discount requested by Benfica coach Nuno Resende.

33 minutes – After a counterattack and a pass from Diogo Rafael, Pablo Alvarez kicks in and Javi Malian intervenes superbly.

30 minutes. As soon as Porto dealt the fatal blow in the first half … Benfica did the same in the second. After the first five minutes of the extra stage, the Eagles have already scored twice (encore Carlos Nicolae, both free kicks) and reduced the defeat to a minimum gap. The classic at Dragão Arena continues …

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28 minutes – Carlos Nicolia shot on goal.

27 minutes – Goal Benfica… Carlos Nicolia, taking the free kick again, beats Xavi Malian and reduces to 3-2

27 minutes – Carlo Di Benedetto’s blue card and Benfica’s free kick.

25 minutes – Goal Benfica… Carlos Nicolia in the transformation of the free kick hits the goal of Xavi Maliana. 3-1

25 minutes – In just 7 seconds of the second half, Benfica will have a free kick advantage after the tenth foul by Porto.

The beginning of the second part.

Break… Porto are resting with a comfortable advantage (3: 0). The Dragons entered the game in an overwhelming manner, scoring three goals – twice Carlo Di Benedetto and one to Gonçalo Alves (free kick) – in the first four minutes, leaving Benfica unresponsive in the opening moments. It took the Reds a long time to really get into the game, but when they got the game right, they balanced the operations and may have already cut them down. The most egregious case was with the stick of Diogo Rafael, but the captain of the Eagles missed a penalty, excellently defended by Xavi Malian. The second part promises to be intense in the Dragão Arena, which is almost full.

20 minutes – Benfica penalty. In the transformation, Diogo Rafael makes a great save from Xavi Malian.

20 minutes – Reinaldo Garcia shot in the post. What a bomb from Argentine FC Porto!

19 minutes – Ezequiel Men’s assistant, Telmo Pinto shot, Pedro Henriquez’s excellent save.

17 minutes – Telmo Pinto came close to a goal in the counterattack. Benfica have earned the defense of Pedro Henriquez.

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15 minutes – Carlos Nicolae’s shot from afar – another beautiful performance by Javi Malian.

12 minutes – Time discount requested by Ricardo Ares. The blue-and-white coach realized that Benfica had improved and, of course, took advantage of this moment to correct some situations. From the stands at the Dragão Arena, which are almost completely full, the strong support of the FC Porto players continues to emanate.

10 minutes – the phase of more balance in the match, when Benfica improve defensively and try to create dangerous situations at the Porto goal. But Ricardo Ares’ charges, thanks to the advantage of three goals, are naturally much more confident on the track …

6 minutes – Benfica almost scores. Edu Lamas shot to protect Xavi Malian. On the rebound, Gonçalo Pinto also tried his luck, but the Spanish goalkeeper was again a giant at the blue and white goal.

4 minutes – FC Porto goal… Gonçalo Alves, converting the free kick, increases: 3-0 in favor of dragons.

4 minutes – Blue card to Diogo Rafael, for protests. FC Porto awards a free kick.

4 minutes – FC Porto goal… Carlo Di Benedetto with a cross on the left side makes 2-0… Biza is a French player.

1 minute – FC Porto goal… Carlo Di Benedetto (50 seconds) uses the bounce of the ball in Benfica’s zone to open the game. 1-0

Five initials:

FC Porto: Javi Malian, Telmo Pinto, Carlo Di Benedetto, Xavier Barroso and Gonçalo Alves.

Benfica: Pedro Henriquez, Diogo Rafael, Edu Lamas, Lucas Ordonez and Gonzalo Pinto.

Refereeing Panel: Silvia Coelho and Pedro Figueiredo

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