Carmelo Anthony on Blazers vs. Lakers: 'We Don't Consider Ourself an 8th Seed'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony hugs Damian Lillard (0) after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers head into the NBA playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference after they beat the Memphis Grizzlies in Saturday's play-in game, making them prohibitive underdogs against the Los Angeles Lakers

But Carmelo Anthony likes their chances.   

"First of all, nothing is usual. But we don't consider ourself an eighth seed. Like, our mindset is not an eight-seed mindset," he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "We consider ourself a very good basketball team coming together at the right time, at the right part of the season. And it's unusual down here in this bubble." 

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

Carmelo Anthony on why he's not saying "I told you so" to his doubters, his new Social Change Fund, and the Blazers' upcoming series vs the Lakers & one of his oldest friends, LeBron James: "We don't consider ourselves an eighth seed. Our mindset is not an eight seed mindset." https://t.co/bsAHI8LfxE

The Blazers are confident after going 6-2 in the bubble before beating Memphis, but a 1-2 record against the Lakers this season is cause for concern. So is the fact that the Lakers have the two best players in the series in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 

Yes, Lillard has been excellent in Orlando. That might actually be an understatement. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

✅ Avg 37 PPG in the restart ✅ Bubble MVP ✅ Won the first-ever Play-In game Oh and he dropped an EP 🔥 (via @Dame_Lillard) https://t.co/MNnUSkDKaQ

But will his heroics be enough to topple a Lakers team that finished the season 52-19, the third-best mark in the NBA behind only the Milwaukee Bucks (56-17) and Toronto Raptors (53-19)? 

The Blazers do have a strong supporting cast in Anthony, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside, Gary Trent Jr. and Zach Collins. Many of their early-season struggles can be attributed to Nurkic and Collins missing time to injury. And this is a team that reached the Western Conference Finals a year ago. 

It's hard to imagine the Lakers will take Portland lightly. As No. 8 seeds go, the Blazers are about as dangerous as it gets.

"[The Blazers] have defensive issues, which is a reason they are the 8-[seed] at the end of the day," a league scout told ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "From an overall talent and experience standpoint, they are probably a 4- or 5-seed masquerading as an 8."

"They're just a team that scares you because of Lillard," an Eastern Conference coach added. "When you're the top seed, you don't like the idea of being scared in the first round."