Ben Golliver of SI.com dropped an article this morning where the message was incredibly clear.
This will only be a series if Lillard makes it one.
Golliver chronicles Damian Lillard's post season numbers since "The Shot." You know the one: 0.9 seconds, a flick of the wrist, splash, "Riiiiiiiiiip Ciiiiiiity!" Trail Blazers win and advance. The legend of Dame Time was born with that iconic, series-clinching shot.
The stark truth is that since that shot, though, Lillard has struggled immensely in the playoffs.
The damage is starting to add up: In his 12 playoff games since sinking the Rockets, Lillard is now shooting 39.5% overall and just 17.6% from deep. Unsurprisingly, Portland is 2-10 in those games.
While Golliver relieves some of the pressure on Lillard by saying his supporting cast should and could be doing better, he still ultimately comes back to the face of the franchise.
Their release-valve shooters Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless and Allen Crabbe have been missing in action. Their defense has been shredded by the Clippers' starters and reserves alike.
Still, the biggest issue is Lillard. While his supporting cast is badly outmatched by the Clippers' in terms of experience and overall talent, he has had some help. Lillard has had the luxury of cross-matching on defense so that he doesn't exhaust himself guarding Paul. Stotts also moved Lillard off the ball more often in Game 2, helping free him for more open looks.
With the Trail Blazers down 0-2 in the first round match-up with the Clippers, the spotlight is being pointed squarely on the wrist of Damian Lillard. Dame Time is creeping toward cherished memory as opposed to ongoing saga and Golliver doesn't pull any punches in the end.
"If I would have had it going, [the game] would have come down to the last couple minutes," Lillard admitted.
Exactly. He didn't have it going, and the game never had a chance to be tense. Again.
To read Golliver's piece in its entirety, you can check it out, here.