The NBA All-Star Game was a bit of a disappointment for many, with the lack of competitive games and the lackluster performances from some of the most talented players in the league.
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Damian Lillard, the standout point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, has left a lot of people speechless with his amazing long-distance shooting and heroics in crunch time. But what he accomplished against the Denver Nuggets in the first round was unlike anything Michael Porter Jr. had ever seen.
In the end, Porter and the Nuggets defeated Lillard and the Blazers in six games. Dame’s amazing performance, however, left an indelible impression on MPJ.
Against the Nuggets, Damian Lillard put up insane statistics.
Damian Lillard didn’t lead the Blazers over the Nuggets, but he put up some impressive numbers.
Lillard was the be-all and end-all for a Portland offense that had inconsistencies from supporting cast members like CJ McCollum and often played without Jusuf Nurkic due to foul problems. Dame shot 44.9 percent from outside the arc on 13 tries, averaging 34.3 points, 10.2 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Thanks to an out-of-this-world Lillard performance, the series was on the verge of turning in Portland’s favor. The series was knotted at two games each going into Game 5, but the Blazers’ chances seemed dismal after being outscored 38-25 in the first quarter.
NBA playoff games with the most efficient 50-point performances:
Damian Lillard has a TS percentage of 96.8%, while Jamal Murray has a TS percentage of 89.4%. Vince Carter, 82.5
Damian Lillard 89.6 eFG percent — Jamal Murray 81.0 eFG percent — Vince Carter pic.twitter.com/b54OQt5vgN
June 2, 2021 — StatMuse (@statmuse)
It didn’t matter; Lillard was about to take over as the team’s offensive leader. The Blazers reduced the advantage to three points at halftime after he scored 11 points in the second quarter. After a 32-27 third quarter, Portland regained the lead, but Denver took control late in the game.
The Nuggets went on a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter and led for the most of it. Lillard, on the other hand, was not about to let Portland perish. He made a number of huge threes, including an incredible game-tying triple with three seconds remaining.
In overtime, Denver seemed to have regained control of the game. With little over two minutes left, the Nuggets lead by as much as nine points. Dame Time, on the other hand, was still in full swing. In the last two minutes, Lillard scored all of Portland’s points, including another game-tying three with only six seconds remaining.
Despite the fact that the Nuggets won the game in the second overtime session, Lillard was the story of the night. On 17-of-24 shooting, he scored 55 points, including 12-of-17 from beyond the arc. Dame also had six rebounds and ten assists. Michael Porter Jr. is still thinking about his performance months later.
Michael Porter Jr. felt like a little child as he saw Notre Dame rain in threes from all sides.
Some of the shots Lillard made in Game 5 baffled Michael Porter Jr. and some of his Nuggets teammates. It came to the point where they could only chuckle at the complexity of the task and Dame’s ability to make even the most difficult jumps seem simple.
Porter said on the Old Man & The Three podcast with JJ Redick that he admires Lillard’s attitude and appreciates the work he put into the series. The 2018 first-round selection felt compelled to share his surprise with his colleagues.
“I was telling my teammates, ‘Bro, I’ve never seen that before,’ because [Lillard] was doing something I hadn’t seen before.’ As though I’ve never seen something like it before.”
-Old Man and the Three Podcast, Michael Porter Jr. (2021).
Porter and the Nuggets, on the other hand, were not going to be lulled into a trance by Lillard’s incredible performance.
In Game 6, Denver made a determined attempt to apply strong defensive pressure to Notre Dame. When he attempted to work off screens, Bigs hedged hard and doubled him, and the Nuggets usually pressured him to compel him to give up the ball. Mike Malone, the club’s head coach, determined that if his team was going to lose, it would have to be someone other than Lillard.
The defensive adjustments were successful. Lillard had 13 assists but also committed five turnovers and hit 3-of-11 from three-point range. More importantly, Dame did not get the support he needed from his teammates, despite the fact that Nikola Jokic scored 36 points and Porter added 26.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets were able to overcome Lillard’s one-man show. His Game 5 performance, on the other hand, serves as a reminder of his status as one of this generation’s greatest clutch players.
According to Damian Lillard’s statistics, he was the greatest clutch player in the NBA last season.
In the first quarter of Round 1, Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Moda Center on June 03, 2021 in Portland, Oregon, Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets defends as Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers attempts a three-point goal | Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard was the greatest clutch player in the NBA for the 2020-21 season, according to the numbers.
In critical circumstances, Lillard’s player impact estimate (PIE) was second only to Joel Embiid’s. In such situations, though, Dame had a significantly better offensive rating (127.2 to 112.0) than Embiid. Furthermore, his shooting statistics were virtually unheard of.
The six-time All-Star had a true shooting percentage of 71.6 percent and an effective field goal percentage of 61.4 percent. That’s ridiculous, given that he had one of the highest use rates in crucial situations.
It remains to be seen if Damian Lillard’s clutch play will ever help the Blazers win an NBA title. For the time being, though, he continues to amaze his colleagues with his shot-making abilities.
Basketball Reference and NBA.com provided the statistics.
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