Damian Lillard is the king of the court in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
With his 61-point eruption in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 134-131 win over the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks last night, Lillard is now averaging 37 points per game in seven NBA bubble contests.
In fact, Lillard became just the 12th player in NBA history to produce back-to-back 50-point games. Prior to his 61 point game against the Mavs, Lillard scored 51 points against the Philadelpia 76ers.
According to Sporting News: Lillard’s performance against the Mavs was otherworldly because t’s the first 60-point, five-rebound, five-assist game in NBA history.
After Lillard’s performance last night, some on Twitter tried to make the argument that Lillard may be better than Brookyln Nets point guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving is a fan of Lillard’s. During an Instagram Live disussion with one of his high school teammates, Jerry Green this past spring, Irving stated that he loved playing against Lillard. “Love competing against him on the floor,” said Irving.
“Did you see what he did last year in the Playoffs? when you wave goodby from a right stepback hard sidestep from like 30 feet back?”
The shot that Irving is referring to was a half-court buzzer beater that Lillard hit against the Oklahoma City Thunder last year that advanced the Blazers to the NBA’s Western Conference Semi-Finals
Lillard hit a 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.
Lillard told me that he relished the moment in going toe-to-toe with the Russell Westbrook, Paul George-led Oklahoma City Thunder last spring in the NBA Playoffs.
“Two star point guards going against each other,” he said.
“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.”
After making an appearance in the Western Conference Finals last year against the Golden State Warriors, the Blazers entered into this season with significant struggles. One of them being Damian Lillard’s health. The Blazers point guard sat out at points during the season. He’s more than made up for it since the NBA’s restart at the bubble at Walt Disney World. A Weber State product, Damian Lillard, 30 is averaging 29.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and eight assists per contest.
Last Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, Lillard scored 45 points and padded his stats with 12 assists, four rebounds. In the 125-115 win over the Nuggets, Lillard also made 11 three-pointers, tying a franchise record he currently owns.
This season, Kyrie Irving, 28, averaged 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest this season in his first year with the Nets. Irving had season-ending surgery this winter after suffering thoracic bursitis.
According to Land of Basketball, statistically, Damian Lillard is a better passer than Kyrie Irving.
The site states that Lillard averages 6.5 assists per game to Irving’s 5.7 assists per contest. In the total assists category, Lillard also has more assists than Irving. Lillard has 3,997 to Irving’s 3,013.
Damian Lillard was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2013. Kyrie Irving won it in 2012 and the NBA Rising Stars Challenge Most Valuable Player Award in 2012. Additionally, Irving also won the NBA All Star Game MVP award in 2014 and an NBA Championship in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Obviously Damian Lillard has never been teammates with LeBron James. Irving has. Guided by head coach, Ty Lue, Irving won an NBA Championship in 2016 playing alongside James, Kevin Love and JR Smith.
In addition to playing alongside CJ McCollum, Lillard has the luxury of playing alongside Carmelo Anthony. Melo was instrumental in Portland’s 110-102 win against the Houston Rockets last week. The former All-Star contributed in two key moments in the final three minutes of the game. With the score tied, Melo blocked a P.J. Tucker 3-pointer and followed that up with a catch-and-shoot dagger 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in the game to put Portland up by five.
Lillard also has big man, Jusuf Nurkic. In Portland’s win against the Rockets last week, Burk posted an 18 point, 19 rebound, three assist, one steal and three block outing. Nurk also went 6-of-15 from the field and was perfect from the free throw line shooting 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Last offseason, the Blazers acquired Hassan Whiteside in a four-team trade with the Miami Heat last summer. This season, Whiteside is averaging a double-double in points and rebound and defensively you 2-3 blocks per contest. “He’s also a lob threat,” Lillard told me.
“He’s an athletic big that can run the floor.”
“He does something that we need, which is to protect the rim.”
Winners of two-straight games, the Portland Trail Blazers currently sit in eight place in the NBA’s Western Conference standings. If the NBA Playoffs were to begin today, the Blazers would play the first-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
Ironically, tomorrow, the Blazers will play in a play-in game for the playoffs tomorrow against Kyrie Irving’s Nets, a seventh-seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.