NBA Playoffs: Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers Have Pivotal Matchup with Lakers Without LeBron James

The Trail Blazers can move up to the sixth seed and send the Lakers back to the seventh seed on Friday evening.
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The Los Angeles Lakers have now lost seven of their last nine games and have barely had LeBron James in action over the previous month. James returned from injury last Friday in a loss to the Kings but had to leave last Sunday again against the Raptors and has not played since leaving that game.

He will also not be around on Friday evening against the Trail Blazers (Tweet from ESPN's Dave McMenamin below).

Anthony Davis had also missed a large chunk of time, and he also got hurt again on Thursday but is expected to play on Friday against the Trail Blazers (Tweet can be seen below from ESPN's Dave McMenamin).

As of right now, the Trail Blazers (37-29) and Lakers (37-29) remain tied for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

The game is so essential that one of these teams will likely have to play in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

James already voiced his opinion on the tournament earlier in the week (video below via Ballislife).

More on the Lakers can be read here.

Over on the Blazers' side, Damian Lillard has another tremendous season going on that landed him in the All-Star game and is averaging 28.4 points and 7.6 assists per game.

The game tip-off time is scheduled for 10:00 P.M. Eastern Time in Portland, Oregon, and can be watched on ESPN.

The Lakers are 8.5 underdogs, according to FanDuel.

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