Basketball

Damian Lillard 2021: Is His Strong Start Enough for Portland?

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Damian Lillard 2021: Damian Lillard’s great season has the Portland Trail Blazers sitting fifth in the West.

Lillard is averaging 29.8 points and 8 assists per game. He is also averaging 11.2 shots from beyond the arc, the highest 3PA he has ever averaged. He is doing this while shooting 38.4% from deep.

He is also shooting a career-high 93.3% from the free throw line.

Lillard’s great season is undoubtedly an MVP caliber season. He is currently ranked fourth in the KIA MVP Ladder. The Blazers have had to deal with a lot of injuries making what Lillard is doing even more impressive.

CJ McCollum suffered a left mid-foot fracture and hasn’t played a game since January. He and Lillard form one of the best backcourts in the entire league, and McCollum was having a great start to his season.

McCollum was averaging a career-high 26.7 points. He was also averaging a career-high 11 3PA and shooting a career-best 44.1% from three.

The Blazers are also without another key player in Jusuf Nurkic due to a right wrist fracture.

Although Portland’s defense is a concern, it doesn’t overshadow Lillard’s great season. Lillard led the way through an impressive six-game win streak that came to an end on February 18.

They currently have won their last three games and hope to extend this streak after the All-Star break.

The Highlights of Lillard’s Great Season

One of the most impressive things from Lillard’s great season has been how clutch he’s been. The most recent example of this was Portland’s last game against the Sacramento Kings.

Lillard dropped 44 points and 7 assists, leading the Blazers to a 123-119 victory.

With just under two minutes left to play and up by only one point, Lillard hit a big 3-pointer to make the score 112-109.

In the next possession, he would hit another clutch three to make the score 115-109 with only one minute and 15 seconds left.

Another noteworthy game in Lillard’s great season has to be when the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Golden State Warriors 108-106, and that was of course thanks to a Damian Lillard’s game-winning shot.

Lillard only had 22 points shooting 6-17 (35.3%) from the field; however, he did what great players do, and that’s show up when needed.

Lillard wasn’t done there, he made a big defensive play in the next possession taking a charge from Draymond Green who tried to win the game with a layup.

After the game Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr said: “He hit a huge shot, obviously, deep shot.”

He also added: “That’s what he does. That’s the kind of player he is. Even on a bad night he can get going at any time, so that’s why you have to stay alert the entire 48.”

We can’t talk about how clutch Lillard has been this season without bringing up that game against the Chicago Bulls.

Lillard dropped 44 points and 9 assists while shooting 57.7% from the field.

He hit two massive back-to-back 3-pointers near the end of the game, including one walk-off buzzer beater that gave Portland the 123-122 win.

You could argue that the best game of Lillard’s great season came against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 17.

He dropped 43 points and tied a career-high with 16 assists. An incredible performance from last year’s NBA Bubble MVP.

Lillard finished at the rim despite the presence of Zion Williamson in the paint and Brandon Ingram trying to play help defense.

He made it so that Portland was only down by one with one minute and four seconds left. He then would make what would end up being the game-winning basket.

Lillard drove past Lonzo Ball and converted a tough layup with the foul. Of course, he made the free throw and Portland won 126-124.

Lillard’s great season has been something special so far. With CJ McCollum returning soon after the All-Star break we can trust that Portland will become an even better team.

Don’t be surprised when people are debating if Damian Lillard should be the 2020-21 Regular season MVP by the time the season finishes.


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