Damian Lillard was the hero of the NBA Playoffs.
Remember that half court buzzer beater that he hit against the Oklahoma City Thunder to advance to the NBA’s Western Conference Semi-Finals?
For those tardy to the party: The Portland Trail Blazers point guard dropped a cold-blooded 37-foot three-pointer with no time remaining to give his team a 118-115 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With that shot, Lillard and the Blazers advanced to the next round and defeated the Denver Nuggets.
Portland eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
With that jumper, there were plenty of eyes on Lillard and the Blazers.
Million dollar question: Was that buzzer beater against the Thunder a crossover moment for Lillard?
“No,” Lillard told me.
“That was the second time I hit a walkoff game winner in the Playoffs and I think the first time I did it I really liked crossed over and introduced myself to a different audience and different crowd of people.”
Damian Lillard averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 80 games during the NBA’s regular season.
Last season, the two guided the Blazers to a 53-29,record which earned RIP City a tiebreaker for the No. 3 seed over the Houston Rockets in the NBA Playoffs.
Together, Lillard and Blazers teammate, C.J. McCollum were unstoppable all season.
McCollum averaged 17.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Lillard and McCollum combined for 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over 4.2 total times per game.
Lillard tells me the scenery was just right in that Thunder/Blazer series this past spring. According to the NBA All Star, the stars aligned perfectly!
“But I think this time it was just like big series,” he said.
“Two star point guards going against each other, it was like one of the only games that was on that night. I had 50, there were so many things that went into it a big moment. It changed a lot.”
The Blazers made a believer out of many last season.
Back in March, Charles Barkley and TNT co-analyst, Kenny Smith both agreed that the Trail Blazers could make their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1992.
“I like Portland in the Finals,” Barkley told me.
“With [Damian] Lillard and [CJ] McCollum. The addition of Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter. I like them in the West.”
“Charles, he can say someting crazy all of the time,” Kenny Smith told me.
“I don’t normally say it. I’m just saying, not every day in a seven game series. I’m talking about just three games: shoot six for ten in between to combat guys shooting four for ten from three point range. They have it, they have it! So to me, that separates them when they’ve been so close every year to get over the hump, that they can get to the Western Conference Finals and they’re a clear and present agent for the Warriors because the Warriors have had trouble with those two guards even in that set. And even, until this year, Oklahoma had trouble with those two guards; until this year.”
NBA training camp starts this month and the NBA’s pre-season and regular season commences next month. Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report ranked Portland’s backcourt No. 1 heading into the season.
The duo also has the co-sign of Portland Trail Blazers legend, Clyde Drexler.
“I think they have been growing for a few years and things are good for them,” Drexler told NBA scribe, Landon Buford.