Damian Lillard’s stellar start to the 2019 NBA Playoffs has placed himself and the Trail Blazers firmly in the spotlight. Lillard sent the Thunder packing after completing a 50-point outing with a heroic 37-foot three-pointer at the end of regulation in Game 5. Along with that big night, Portland’s leading man averaged 33 points per game in the first round series against Oklahoma City.
Due to his exploits in the opening round, CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger listed Lillard’s breakout as the most jaw-dropping thing that has occurred in 2019 NBA Playoffs.
There will be a large contingent of NBA fans clamoring that Lillard’s first-round performance against the Thunder shouldn’t have come as a shock, but when you compare it to last postseason, the difference is staggering. In an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans last year, Lillard averaged 18.5 points on 35 percent shooting and 30 percent 3-pointers. Against the Thunder, a significantly better defense than last year’s Pelicans by all metrics, Lillard averaged 33 points on 46 percent shooting and 48 percent 3-pointers -- not to mention hitting perhaps the most cold-blooded buzzer-beater in NBA playoff history.