Now seems like a pretty good time to talk about Damian Lillard, don’t you think?
Many of the NBA Playoffs first round matchups are coming to a close, but none have slammed shut quite like the one between Damian Lillard’s Portland Trailblazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Trailblazers completed a “gentleman’s sweep” last night, besting the OKC Thunder with a 4 to 1 series victory. This one had an exclamation point on it though.
After plenty of jawing between OKC’s Russell Westbrook, and Portland’s Damian Lillard, “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” put his money where his mouth was and scored his 50th point on the night by burying a 37 foot, game winning step-back triple over Paul George. That’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate Paul George, mind you.
The fanfare that followed helped to make this one of the iciest moments in recent NBA Playoff history. After sinking the impossible shot, Lillard’s expression never changed as he politely waved goodbye to the OKC bench before being mauled by his teammates, his brother and sister, and the Blazers’ staff.
He even slipped in a stare-down into one of the cameras during the dogpile. This was some Iverson stepping over Lue-esque bad-assery.
This has been a big season for Damian Lillard - his seventh in the NBA and with Portland. He has led his team to a three seed in the West again, but may actually finally have the brass to take the team to the Western Conference Finals this time.
Lillard was already in the discussion for top-5 point guards in the game, but this series feels like it’s pushed him past Westbrook. We may be talking top-3 now. Kobe Bryant noted back in 2013 that Lillard had that #MambaMentality that made him a killer on the court. He has continued to improve and now owns two amazing game-winners in the Playoffs.
The Blazers get the winner of San Antonio vs. Denver next. The Nuggets won last night to put them up 3 to 2 in the series. The matchups that are in the books so far are: Bucks over Pistons, Celtics over Pacers, Raptors over Magic, 76ers over Nets, and these Blazers over the Thunder. The Rockets and Warriors will look to clinch tonight.
Whatever happens as the playoffs continue, appreciate the moments like these that will be replayed for years to come. The depth of talent in the NBA (and on down) is possibly stronger than it has ever been. We will continue to see titans clash again and again as the NBA Playoffs continue and we can’t wait.
Catch tonight’s games on TNT and keep checking back here for tips and news from prep-to-pro.