- Alder Almo
It’s About Dame Time: Lillard Masters The Art of War
Despite everything, Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are moving on. Dame’s endured All-Star snubs, back-to-back first round series sweeps, ‘Jenny tweet’ memes, Westbrook’s ‘too small to defend me’ & his rock-the-baby taunts, and more, Still, Lillard is advancing to the next round following a pulsating 118-115 victory over Oklahoma Thunder Tuesday night.
Portland’s 28-year old Portland superstar humiliated one of the game’s biggest personalities to earn what is a real shot at a trip to the Conference Finals. He had the last word in a rivalry for the ages between him and Russell Westbrook.
A stark contrast of Westbrook’s loud style of play, the calm and collected Lillard let his game do the talking, punctuating the back-and-forth matchup with a dagger to remember. This 37-foot series-clinching three-pointer is the stuff of legend. The wave at the end is particularly iconic.
“I was just waving goodbye to them,” Lillard said when asked about his game winner celebration.
“After Game 3, Dennis Schroder was out there pointing to his wrist,” Lillard continued. “They were out there doing all these celebrations and doing all this stuff. We kept our composure. After one win, that’s what they decided to do. What we want to do is win four games. And when we win those four games, there’s not going to be anything to talk about.”
Lillard ended the conversation as only he could. This is his second series clinching shot (the first one was against the Houston Rockets in 2014).
On Tuesday night, Lillard’s star was the brightest in the NBA galaxy.
He played the game of his life, becoming the first player in NBA postseason history to record at least 50 points, ten three-pointers, five rebounds and five assists. Dame shot a cool 51.5 percent from the field on the night.
Westbrook, meanwhile, lost his luster, flaming out after going 2-for-7 in the fourth quarter with his final shot a total clunker that set up Lillard’s heroics. Westbrook went just 35.5 percent shooting, putting an asterisk to his triple-double. The two guard’s Game 5 performances, in a nutshell, defined the series.
Lillard averaged 33 points and 6 assists per game while shooting 48.1 percent from deep. He went an impossible 8-12 on 30-plus foot shots.
On the other hand, Westbrook shot a woeful 36 percent from the field despite averaging a near triple double (22.8 points, 10.6 assists and 8.8 rebounds).
Lillard’s masterful first round series triggered a tectonic shift in the Western Conference landscape. Lillard has clearly overtaken Westbrook in the pecking order of the league’s best guards, and his superstar stock is climbing.
This postseason, Lillard has begun to master the Art of War. Westbrook lost the series as he allowed himself to be consumed by anger. Lillard was calm and calculated.
After all the emotions of wrapping up the series have been dried up, Lillard posted a parting shot to Westbrook and the Thunder via Instagram. It was the perfect quote to sum up their matchup and the series.
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