On this day three years ago, August 13, 2020, the Portland Trail Blazers clinched the eighth seed in the Western Conference and the chance to participate in the NBA’s first ever play-in game. In the eighth and final seeding game of the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Damian Lillard scored 42 points to lead the Blazers to a thrilling 134-133 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The game against the Nets was the difference between holding the advantage in the play-in game — only needing to win one game compared to the two required victories for the ninth seed — and missing the play-in entirely.
Aug 13 2020 - @Dame_Lillard hits for 42 pts in @trailblazers victory vs @BrooklynNets— Blazers History (@77Blazers) August 13, 2023
The win forces a "play-in" game for #Blazers vs @memgrizz to see who gets 8th seed in 2020 playoffs. Portland needs to win once while Memphis must win twicehttps://t.co/AWeoifuZLC#RipCity
Lillard’s 42-point performance was the final game in his Bubble MVP campaign and marked the third straight game, and fourth in five games, in which he eclipsed 40 points. Prior to the game against the Nets, Lillard scored 61 against the Dallas Mavericks and 51 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Helping out Lillard, CJ McCollum was next highest in scoring with 25 points against Brooklyn and big man Jusuf Nurkic scored 22. Off the bench, Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, as part of his breakout Bubble run.
The Blazers went 6-2 during the eight seeding games in the Bubble, then beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in to set up a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, the eventual NBA champions.
Enjoy this recap of the nail-biter!