The first game of a playoff series in the NBA always draws as many conclusions as it does viewers.
People will watch tonight and figure that whoever wins Game 1 will capture the best-of-seven series. And they will assume whatever they saw in that game will continue to happen.
But the beauty of these series is that adjustments are made. Change happens. Injuries happen. Unsung heroes are found and sometimes even lost, all in the same series.
So a word of caution before this series starts -- don't get too carried away with the first game. It may set a tone but it isn't the whole song.
But a few things to think about tonight:
The Trail Blazers should be expected to get off to a fast start. They've been playing high-pressure games for a couple of weeks and ought to be more playoff ready. The Lakers have not been sharp in their seeding games. This would seem like an excellent opportunity for Portland to steal a game.
After a quick check of the rule book, I have determined there will be a third quarter in playoff games this season. So that means any big halftime lead Portland may hold will likely vanish before the final period begins.
The Lakers are good, in case you haven't noticed. When they are at their best, they are terrific. The Trail Blazers better hope they aren't at their very best -- not only tonight but for the series. The combo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James is, obviously, one of most talented duos of all time.
Davis is a unicorn -- a terrific post presence who can make threes and run the court. He is a tough cover for the Trail Blazers, especially with Zach Collins (ankle) out.
The Lakers are expected to start Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the backcourt. The Portland guards are capable of working them over and with Avery Bradley not with the team and Rajon Rondo doubtful, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard should have big games.
I would expect to see Los Angeles trying to get the ball out of Lillard's hands as much as possible and therefore, perhaps blitzing pick-and-rolls and double-teaming him when possible. A lot of teams try that these days, but when the smoke clears, he still usually gets his numbers.
The Lakers have hurt the Trail Blazers with their transition game. It's devastating.
The Lakers haven't seen Jusuf Nurkic in a year and a half. I would expect him to give them some trouble with his well-rounded offensive game.
Kyle Kuzma is a streaky shooter and he leads a big group of useful role players off the Los Angeles bench that includes Alex Caruso, JR Smith, Dion Waiters, Dwight Howard and Jared Dudley. On a given night, all of them can do some sort of damage.
The age-old question in pro sports is the elephant in the room tonight -- rest or rust? Is it better to be playing tough games or be the team sitting around taking it easy, waiting to play?
Which begs the question, how big a mental and physical price did the Trail Blazers pay just to get to the playoffs? And how much of the Lakers' mediocrity in the seeding games will carry over to the playoffs?
The Lakers shot 34.9 percent from three-point range and allowed the same percentage to their opponents. If the Lakers shoot higher than that tonight, the Trail Blazers will likely be in trouble -- unless they outshoot LA by a big margin from three. And ruling out percentage, it might be a good idea to just make more threes than Los Angeles.
Looking for a stat that would come closest to ensuring a Portland win? The Blazers are 22-6 this season when outrebounding, or just being even on the boards, with their opponents.
Or how about this one: The Trail Blazers are 1-0 this season when Wenyen Gabriel is in the starting lineup. And that's 1-0 against the Lakers. Will he start tonight? Only Terry Stotts knows,
Trail Blazers vs. Lakers, Game 1 -- A few things to think about tonight originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest