NBA legend Charles Barkley has doubled, no, tripled, heck, quadrupled down on his appreciation of the Portland Trail Blazers.
On TNT’s “Inside the NBA” postgame show Friday night, Barkley proclaimed that the Blazers “are getting to the Finals.”
As in the NBA Finals. Barkley said this after reiterating his stance from last month that if the Blazers get the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, they would defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, who this week clinched the No. 1 seed.
“If they get the eight spot, they will beat the Lakers,” Barkley said again Friday night.
Of course, this is a very bold statement. Only five times in NBA history has a No. 8 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs, dating back to 1984 when the NBA went to a 16-team playoff field.
The Blazers are currently in ninth place in the West after getting off to a 3-1 start at the NBA bubble in Florida. It appears likely that they will at least make it to the play-in round for the eighth seed.
Clearly, Portland is a much better team right now than it was when the regular season was halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-month hiatus allowed the Blazers to get back center Jusuf Nurkic and power forward Zach Collins. Also, backup guard Gary Trent Jr. has been a monster in Orlando, averaging 20.3 points off the bench compared with the 8.5 he is averaging for the season.
However, is all of that enough for Portland (32-38) to overcome a rested LeBron James, who is paired with arguably the best big man in the game in Anthony Davis?
Barkley certainly believes so.
The conversation began when host Ernie Johnson Jr. asked Barkley what he was looking forward to on Saturday.
“Watching my Portland Trail Blazers,” Barkley said.
“Let me tell you something,” Barkley continued. “They have the best backcourt in the NBA because both (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) are injured. You’ve got Nurkic coming off the bench who can do it all.”
Well, Nurkic actually has started all four games since his return, but OK, continue, Charles …
“Gary Trent has been amazing,” Barkley added. “You’ve got Zach Collins coming in. You’ve got (Hassan) Whiteside that’s blocking everything. They are big and strong. Listen, whoever plays that team, you’re going to have to bring it. Plain and simple.”
Betting on the Blazers to win the NBA Finals would be a heck of a wager. The Lakers, according to Oddsshark.com, are plus-210 to win the NBA championship. The Blazers are plus-7000. That means a wager of $100 on the Blazers to win the NBA championship would pay out $7,000 should they complete the mission.
One has to wonder if Barkley, known for enjoying gambling, has put his money where his prediction is regarding the Blazers.
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