Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard says he respects the Los Angeles Lakers but he is confident his team could beat the No. 1 seed of the Western Conference in the upcoming playoff series. The Trail Blazers took down the Memphis Grizzlies 126-122 in the first-ever NBA play-in tournament to book the final eighth spot of the Western Conference and set up a first round playoff meeting against the Lakers.
The Trail Blazers arrived to the bubble with slim chances of making the postseason with their great performances and Lillard feels they are better than your typical eight seed. "I've been seeing everybody saying what we're gonna do to the Lakers," Lillard said, per ESPN.
"But the Lakers, they're the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason. They've got the best player in the world on their team. "But at the same time, we didn't fight as hard as we fought in the bubble to just say, 'All right, we're the eighth seed,' and go out here and just get beat up on.
We feel like we have a chance in a series against anybody in this league. We feel like we've got a chance in this series. And that's how we're gonna approach it."
Lillard underlines the confidence is there
"We respect them for who they are, and we have enough belief in ourselves to go into it feeling like we can win the series.
I think it's that simple," Lillard claimed. Lillard led his team with 31 points scored, while CJ McCollum added 29 points -- 14 of those 29 points came in the fourth quarter. "I was thinking I want to play again tomorrow," McCollum told ESPN's Lisa Salters with a laugh after the game.
"We had to get this done tonight, [and] make sure we came in and finished them off. We're thankful to be in a position to be able to make the playoffs, and we didn't want to squander an opportunity." Just two hours before the tipoff, Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic shared the news his grandmother passed away after battling with the coronavirus.
Nurkic contemplated to skip the game but instead he ended up finishing with 22 points and 21 rebounds. "I didn't want to play," Nurkic said after the game. "I think she made me play." "I already came all the season to be with the team and stay here, so might as well think she want me to play. So I'm glad we win, and we're in the playoffs, what we came for."