The Los Angeles Lakers sent a message in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. They defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 111-88 and the main reason was the team’s defense, particularly on the dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Lillard finished with just 18 points and made only one of his seven attempts from 3-point range, but the biggest story came in the third quarter. Lillard reached around Anthony Davis in an attempt to steal the ball, but in doing so his hand was kicked, resulting in a dislocated index finger on his left hand.
“I didn’t know what happened. I just know I reached from behind, I didn’t know if it was his leg, his foot or if I pushed my hand into his back,” Lillard explained. “But I felt it right away.
“I didn’t even want to look at it, but I looked and it was off, I immediately started to pull it back. I got it to go back a little bit but it was still out. So I went to the back and they had to put it back.”
Lillard did have x-rays performed which came back negative, and obviously is a great sign for him and the Blazers. Lillard said he is playing in Game 3, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a factor moving forward.
“I handle the ball a lot, so just knowing there’s going to be some discomfort, I don’t know how that’s going to feel or go,” he said. This is the first time Lillard has ever suffered a dislocated finger.
Though it isn’t his shooting hand which was affected, the off-hand is still crucial to a player’s shot and for one who fires as much and as deep as Lillard does, it can surely affect things.
But one thing that is for sure is that if Lillard is on the floor, the Lakers will defend him as if he’s 100% as doing anything else would be foolish. The unanimous MVP of the NBA restart is an extremely dangerous player and one finger, no matter how sore, won’t be enough to hold him down. It will be on the Lakers to keep up that defensive intensity.
LeBron James explains respect players have for Lillard
The Lakers have a tough task in front of them as they face one of the most dangerous 8-seeds the league has ever seen in the Trail Blazers. Portland went 6-2 in the restart and won a play-in game just to get to this point and Lillard staked his claim as one of the NBA’s elite, being named NBA restart MVP.
Despite his outstanding play for years now, Lillard has sometimes been forgotten when it comes to talks about the best players in the league as well as some accolades such as All-Star and All-NBA selections. But that hasn’t bled into the thoughts of the players.
LeBron James understands just how good Lillard is and believes that those in the league feel the same about Damian, calling him both underappreciated and underrated in a recent interview. Additionally, James added that he feels Lillard has the respect of every player in the NBA.
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