PORTLAND, Ore. -- NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley believes the Portland Trail Blazers will win "at least" two games against the No. 1 seed Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
He had one condition for his prediction. The Blazers need a healthy Jusuf Nurkic back in the lineup to challenge the Warriors.
"It depends on the big guy, he's out with a broken leg," Barkley said after co-star Kenny Smith asked him about the matchup between the Blazers and Warriors during an airing of "Inside the NBA." "He could be a major problem for the Warriors. If he's healthy, they're going to win at least two games. At least two."
Smith and fellow co-star Ernie Johnson did not agree with Barkley's assessment, but Barkley defended his prediction, calling Damian Lillard the most underrated player in the NBA.
I'm just saying they're going to have some problems with the Portland Trail Blazers. You're sleeping on the Trail Blazers. -- Charles Barkley
"(CJ) McCollum and Lillard do not like those guards from Golden State. They go at their head," he said. "Damian Lillard is probably the most underrated player in the NBA. He's a terrific player, McCollum is a stud. The guards to me is an even matchup."
The former 76ers and Suns star said he doesn't know if Nurkic can come back in time for the playoffs.
"Does Portland have any big guys who can dominate down low? Clearly (Nurkic) can, but he broke his leg two weeks ago, and I don't know how you get better from a broken leg in two weeks," he said.
Smith and Johnson continued to argue with Barkley, but he continued to push back.
"I'm just saying they're going to have some problems with the Portland Trail Blazers. You're sleeping on the Trail Blazers," he said.
Shaquille O'Neal, who also sits on the 'Inside the NBA' panel, didn't offer an opinion except to agree with Smith that there aren't talented big men in the NBA anymore like O'Neal was during his career.
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