Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is the talk of the NBA after his 37-foot, series-clinching shot that took Portland to the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Though he’s appeared on many national media outlets since, his most in-depth discussion might have been with teammate CJ McCollum, who hosts Cadence13’s “Pull Up with CJ McCollum” podcast. During the interview, Portland’s backcourt mates went into detail about the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning and losing in the playoffs, and the significance of the shot.
Dame on the different approaches the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers took to the game, and why what Portland did worked to their advantage: “We stayed in our own little lane, we did what we do, we took the challenge and we won the series.”
Damian Lillard: “I mean, I was talking back, you know, I said some stuff over the course of the series, but it wasn’t from an emotional place. It was more just a competitive spirit than it was me being emotional about it, and I thought they were emotional. With our team, I think a lot of the stuff that we did…even when we beat them in the first two games, we were hyping our crowd and hyping each other. We never turned to them and pointed at them and screamed…at them. We did it amongst ourselves and with our crowd. You know what I’m saying? And with them it was like everything was just demonstrative towards our team. They were doing stuff towards our team. Paul George dunked the ball at the end of…game three at the buzzer. He dunked at the end of the buzzer. Dennis Schroder pointing to his wrist like ‘Dame time,’ Russell Westbrook rocking the baby…all that stuff…that was…[directed]…at us as team, and to me, that was more emotional on their behalf then us, and I think that was to our advantage. We stayed in our own little lane, we did what we do, we took the challenge and we won the series.”
Dame on his 37-foot game winning shot and on Paul George saying it wasn’t a good shot: “If anything, it was bad defense…”:
CJ McCollum: “The difficulty level, Dame was, was just enormous because not only was it a 37-footer, you sidestepped, you got Paul George [guarding you], one of the premiere defenders in the league…the internet has declared that shot was the coldest buzzer beater in the last 25 years. Paul George said after ‘I don’t care what anyone says, that’s not a good shot.’ But for you it was a good shot, wasn’t it?”
Damian Lillard: “It was a good shot. I think a lot of people don’t know what goes into the moment. That’s because they are not the ones…[who are]…there. I literally work on those shots, and I don’t work on it so I can just come out and just shoot it for the whole game, I work on it just because over my career I know how much attention I’m going to get from defenses, so…you just keep adding more things, keep addingmore and more to keep in your pocket in case these types of situations do present themselves. Even if it’s not something you want to lean on, it’s something that you have there, that you worked on, [that] you spent time doing, so you’ve got confidence in it when the time does come. So that’s why when I was just standing there, I was like, ‘Well, it’s probably not good in a lot of people’s eyes, but I’m comfortable with this and I’m confident in this.’ So to me, it’s a solid shot. And I mean for him to say ‘That’s a bad shot,’ that’s…kind of being a poor sport. If anything, it was bad defense because I had the ball in my hands with two seconds and I wasn’t going to drive so maybe you should have just bodied up.”
CJ on the Trail Blazers win over the Thunder, and the “finish them off and then bow out” mindset:
CJ McCollum: “You’ve been in that situation…we’ve been eliminated from series in embarrassing fashion. We know what it’s like be down, we know what it’s like to be pissed off…and when you have a chance to really kill someone, you just kill them. You don’t have to twist the knife. You don’t have to overdo it. You already stabbed them. They’re going to bleed out. You don’t have to twist the knife. It’s over. And I think that we’ve got to that point where they were wounded, and we knew it and we want to take advantage of them, finish them off and then bow out. There’s nothing else that needs to be said. The series is over. You can think of what you want about us as players. You can think what you want to is about us as an organization. You can say things about the shots, if it was a bad shot, it doesn’t matter. Series is over. Enjoy your summer.”