The matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Playoffs is one to watch due to Damian Lillard’s potential performance, according to Dan Devine of the Ringer. Devine outlines how the Blazers have performed in past playoffs with Lillard at the helm, noting that the team was doing well this season before injuries to CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. He also elaborates on how Lillard needs to step up in the postseason to build his legacy and drive the team further into the playoffs:
The Blazers’ rough run of postseason luck isn’t all on Lillard’s shoulders; they were injured and outgunned against Memphis in 2015, ran into two buzzsaw Warriors teams in 2016 and 2017, and had a team-wide collapse against New Orleans last season. But it seems odd that a star so synonymous with performance in the clutch has gone five years without a signature postseason moment. Rightly or wrongly, Dame’s inability to push the Blazers further than they’re supposed to go in the playoffs contributes to the tendency to drop him down the rankings of the league’s best point guards below peers who might not be clearly superior players, but who have superior postseason résumés.
Against the Thunder, the Blazers will face a challenge, seeing as Oklahoma City took the season series. But as Devine points out, it provides the perfect opportunity for the Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard to rid themselves of some of their post-season woes.
You can read more about other players to watch in the playoffs here, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, and Gordon Hayward.