Dr. Jack's Breakdown: Blazers-Lakers
By Dr. Jack Ramsay
Special to ESPN.com

No. 3 Blazers (59-23) vs. No. 1 Lakers (67-15)

Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay provides analysis for ESPN on SportsCenter and NBA Today. Here he breaks down the playoffs for ESPN.com. The color analyst for the Heat, Ramsay's impressive résumé includes making the playoffs in 16 of his 20 seasons as coach and winning an NBA title with Portland in 1977.

Throughout the 2000 playoffs, Dr. Jack will break down each series from the backcourts to intanglibles. Look for his analysis from the first round all the way through to the NBA Finals.

The Lakers get the edge because of Kobe Bryant and whoever is playing with him. The Blazers have good depth, but who defends Kobe? And if they choose to put Scottie Pippen on Bryant, then that means Steve Smith will have to defend Glen Rice. The Blazers may decide to do that. And Smith is long enough to maybe bother Rice on his jump shot. Rice has to take the ball to the basket against Smith, if that happens. Ron Harper doesn't score until you need him, but he's a solid defender. He will do a good job on Damon Stoudamire, even though it appears to be a mismatch favoring Stoudamire's quickness. The Lakers are capable of excellent backcourt defense off the bench as well, with Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw.


Shaquille O'Neal just dominates. After him, I think you have to favor the Blazers because Rasheed Wallace will be more effective than either A.C. Green or Robert Horry. I expect Horry will play the major minutes because of his defensive ability, but Wallace gets the edge at power forward. At small forward, Pippen has an edge over Rice if they play straight up. But my suspicion is that Kobe will play Pippen. Overall, though, Shaq is too powerful and will overcome the numbers the Blazers can throw at him. Rice will have to get his points and should.


The Blazers have the more solid group based on talent alone, with Greg Anthony, Brian Grant, Bonzi Wells and Detlef Schrempf. But they will have a tough time scoring against the Lakers. With Fisher, Shaw, Horry and Rick Fox, the Lakers have four main bench players who are pretty good. While they may not score a lot of points, teams won't score many points against them.

The Lakers are so motivated to win the championship, Shaq in particular. He'll do whatever it takes. The Blazers have more successful playoff experience, but they've been here before and have never been able to do it. However, the Lakers haven't been able to do it either. So an intangible is which team can play with the mental toughness that gets them past their opponent. That's the big factor.

Lakers in six. Shaq and Kobe will be the difference. They are too dominant. But somebody else will have to step up. The most likely candidate is Rice, but it could be somebody else. They need help for their dynamic duo. Having home-court advantage will be a big factor for the Lakers in the series, even though both teams have shown they can win on the other team's floor.

ESPN.com: Help | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map | Jobs at ESPN.com
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.

Portland at Los Angeles


Phil Jackson says its what everyone's been waiting for.
wav: 103 k
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

Blazers' coach Mike Dunleavy says this is a dead-even match.
wav: 95 k
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

News   Money   Entertainment   Kids   Family
Eastern Conf

Western Conf

Other Rounds

Knicks vs. Heat

76ers vs. Pacers

Jazz vs. Blazers

Suns vs. Lakers

Conference Quarterfinals