Hello Blazers fans, Antonio here. Wednesday night’s game against the Warriors was exactly the type of game the Blazers should lose. Poor shooting overall, Damian Lillard struggling, Steph Curry hot, and nothing seemed to be going Portland’s way. While watching, I had already chalked up the game as a loss in my mind.
Then Lillard decided to start playing. Eight points in the final minutes put the Blazers over the top, winning 108-106. Let’s take a closer look.
Staying in the Game
National media, Blazers fans, and anyone with a brain will look to the final minutes and see nothing but Dame Time. But throughout the first 46 minutes of play, Damian struggled mightily against Steve Kerr’s defense.
The Warriors would trap Lillard on every screen in sight, giving him the same treatment as the New Orleans Pelicans did in the 2018 Playoffs. And it worked. The Blazers’ offense sputtered as Lillard could only amass 14 points, and had to pass out of every double team. Blazer shooters shot a measly 29% from behind the arc. Not good numbers.
So what kept them in the game? Carmelo Anthony and Defense. Melo scored 22 points to right the ship, while the rest of the Blazers played solid D. After a horrific start to the season, Portland’s defense has been slowly getting better. The Blazers forced 11 turnovers and held the Warriors back, keeping the Blazer in reach.
Damian Lillard Crunch Time Buckets
Lillard is shooting 12/20 form three in crunch time this season for Portland, and he stepped up to the plate once again on Wednesday. Despite shooting 1/8 from three, Lillard hit two threes in the final minutes, before hitting this beauty.
Dame followed up the shot by drawing a big-time charge against Draymond Green, giving the Blazers the ball back. Despite two Robert Covington free throw misses, the Blazers rode Lillard’s heroics to a second straight win.
We’ve known this for a while: all Lillard needs is help. When he gets doubled, the rest of the team needs to respond. Even without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, Portland has enough playmakers to keep on winning.
A Great Start to the Season
While I was scrolling through Twitter instead of doing my college homework earlier today, I came across this stat.
At first, it seemed unreasonable. The best start ever? Even better than both three seed years? After looking into it via the trustworthy source of Wikipedia, I discovered that the fact was true. With Damian Lillard at the helm, the previous best record through 24 games was a 19-15 mark.
Historically, the Blazers are a second half team. And without two star players, they’re off to the best start in the last five years. Without returns on the horizon and the All-Star Break looming, there’s a lot to be excited about for Portland. I’m giddy with excitement already.
Next Up: The Blazers finish off their first half schedule with a battle against the Kings,
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