Wenyen Gabriel to start in Game 1 vs Los Angeles Lakers

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Dylan Mickanen
·2 min read
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Welcome to the postseason Wenyen Gabriel.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts told Rip City Radio host Dan Sheldon that he will start Gabriel against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs.

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

He will enter the rotation in relief of Zach Collins, who suffered a left ankle injury in Portland's seeding game against Memphis on Saturday.

[RELATED]: Zach Collins is OUT for Game 1 vs. Lakers, status for series remains unknown

Damian Lillard told reporters on Monday that he expected Gabriel to start on Tuesday and that it will be a collective team effort to replace Collins' production, especially on the defensive end.

Right now, I would guess that it would be Wenyen just because… the last time we played the Lakers we were in a similar situation where Melo didn't make the trip and [Gabriel] started that game, which was a big game. There was a lot of attention on that game and he came out and he was prepared... We don't expect him to go out there and hold AD or anybody to zero points, we just want him to come in and give that effort, and just have a positive effect on the game and I thought he did that the last time. Just knowing that he has done that against this team specifically, we should have some confidence in him being able to step in for however many minutes it is. -- Damian Lillard on Wenyen Gabriel

The rookie from Kentucky, acquired in the Trevor Ariza trade, started one game this season coincidentally against the Lakers back on January 31, a 127-119 Portland victory. Gabriel, who started in place of Carmelo Anthony who did not make the trip to Los Angeles, played 13 minutes and went 0-3 from the field but was a +5 on the floor. 

The idea of playing Gabriel echoes back to Stotts' strategy of replacing an injured starter with a player not previously in the rotation to preserve the rotation as much as possible. When Nicolas Batum suffered a right leg contusion in 2014, Stotts entered second-year player Allen Crabbe into the starting lineup. 

Gabriel entered the Blazers rotation after Collins' injury Saturday and started the second half. He went 1-3 from the field in nine minutes with his lone field coming from a left corner three-pointer, a shot he will need to hit if the Blazers want to win the series versus LA.

The Blazers face the Lakers in Game 1 of their Western Conference Playoff Series on Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00 p.m. here on NBC Sports NW.

Wenyen Gabriel to start in Game 1 vs Los Angeles Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest