Terry Stotts Calls Lakers the Best Team in NBA Ahead of Trail Blazers' Series

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers' Terry Stotts looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had major praise for the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday after earning the right to face L.A. in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Stotts said: "[The Lakers] are the best team in the league...at least the best team in the West. I don't want to piss off my Milwaukee friends."

The Trail Blazers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 126-122 in a play-in game inside the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, meaning they clinched the No. 8 seed and will face the top-seeded Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers went 52-19 this season to earn the No. 1 seed in the West. They also own the third-best record in the NBA overall, as the Milwaukee Bucks went 56-17 and the Toronto Raptors went 53-19 to earn the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference.

The Lakers struggled a bit during the seeding games with a 3-5 record, but since they essentially had the top seed sewn up, they were cautious with their top players and restricted the minutes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in some games.

Meanwhile, the Blazers went 6-2 and needed every one of those wins to finish 35-39. Since they had one more win than the Grizzlies, they only needed to beat Memphis once in order to reach the playoffs.

While the Lakers undoubtedly have a great team, they may very well be tasked with facing the best No. 8 seed in NBA history.

The Blazers reached the Western Conference Finals last season, and they are playing their best basketball of the 2019-20 season currently.

The play of guard Damian Lillard is the primary reason for it, as he was named the Player of the NBA Seeding Games by the league after averaging 37.6 points, 9.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in eight contests.

Portland also has a second star in guard CJ McCollum, one of the all-time great scorers in Carmelo Anthony and center Jusuf Nurkic, who has been a bubble standout despite missing the entire season prior to the restart because of injury.

The Lakers very well may be the NBA's best team, but based on how well the Blazers are playing right now, they have a legitimate chance to knock off LeBron, AD and Co.