Damian Lillard’s Series Winner is Legendary


Via: gq.com

          The game was tied at 115-115. The Blazers lead the series 3-1. There were 20 seconds on the clock when Damian Lillard got the ball in the backcourt. He calmly dribbled over to the frontcourt and waited patiently as the clock ticked down. He called for a screen and then quickly waved it off, deciding to isolate with one of the best one-on-one perimeter defenders in the NBA in Paul George. As he patiently dribbled the ball, he decided that he did not “want to put [the game] in the referee’s hands” by driving and he decided that 37 feet out was “a comfortable range.” With 2.4 seconds left, Lillard took a long sidestep to the right and rose from 37 feet from the basket and time seemed to freeze until the ball sank through the net and the announcer screamed, “AAAND ITS GOOOD!!” followed with three or four legendary voice cracks. Lillard finished the game with 50 points and 10 three-pointers, with three of them coming from over 30 feet out.

Via: wgci.iheart.com

          With that dagger, Lillard calmly looked at the Thunder bench and literally waved bye to them. He later told reporters that after winning Game 3, the Thunder started mocking his celebrations and they had only won one game. The Blazers, though, were only going to celebrate after they won four games.

          Because of Dame’s late-game heroics, the one major detail that will be overshadowed in the years to come is that the Blazers were losing by 15 with seven minutes to go in the 4th quarter. With repeated buckets from Harkless, McCollum, and Lillard, as well as strong defense, the Blazers willed themselves to victory. As he said later, “it really happened. We dug and pulled it out.”

          The Thunder did play very, very well. Portland needed every one of Dame’s 50 points to pull out with the win. If he had scored 46, the Thunder would have won. Paul George really helped carry the load for the Thunder, except for his two huge missed free throws during the last few moments of the game. Overall, though, he played very well, scored efficiently, and finished with a +/- of +6.

          Russell Westbrook, of course, had another triple-double and unsurprisingly, shot a disgusting 35% from the field and 36% from outside the arc and finished with a +/- of -4. The most telling advanced stat shows that he had an atrocious usage rate of 37.3%. Keep in mind, Paul George had 36 points on 70% from the field, and his usage rate was 30%. This stat exposes a large flaw in Westbrook’s game, his unwillingness to be selfless. There’s no doubt that if George and Russ had swapped their usage rates, the Thunder would win. No doubt.

          Less than an hour after the game, Paul George told the media that Damian Lillard’s three-pointer “was a bad shot” and that he didn’t care what anyone said about that. In truth, Lillard nailed an absolute mind-boggling 60% of three-pointers from 30 feet and beyond, in this series. This was anything but a bad shot by Dame’s standards. In fact, Lillard and his trainer Phil Beckner had been practicing very deep threes and Beckner told Lillard, “I’m telling you, you’re gonna hit one of these.” And sure enough, he did.

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