Damian Lillard is the hottest player in the NBA not named Stephen Curry. Lillard is averaging 25.4 points, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game over 54 games. He has scored 21 points or more in his last 11 games including a 51-point explosion against the Golden State Warriors. That game was right after All-Star weekend, the weekend Lillard was snubbed. To all the doubters, “Thank you for the motivation.”
The Portland Trail Blazers are 14-2 in their last 16 games which accounts for second best in the NBA in during that span. They place 7th in the Western Conference but hold the same record as the 6th seed Dallas Mavericks. With the Marc Gasolless Memphis Grizzlies schedule eventually getting tougher (Last 4: LAL, LAL, PHO, DEN. Next 3: SAC, UTAH, PHO), Lillard has the ability to propel the Trail Blazers to 5th in the Western Conference. No one wants to face the Trail Blazers.
If anyone is going to slow down Damian Lillard, it’s the Boston Celtics. Damian Lillard has a history putting up poor numbers against the Celtics. Here are his stats against the Celtics, via ESPN.com.
(Season averages vs all 30 NBA teams)
2012-2013: 2 games, 10 points (30th), 4.5 assists (28th), 4.5 rebounds (6th), 29.2 fg% (26th), 10% 3pt% (T-29th), 2.5 TO (T-13th)
2013-2014: 2 games, 16 points (28th), 5.0 assists (T-23rd), 2.0 rebounds (26th), 36.7 fg% (23rd), 30% 3p% (24th), 4 TO (T-29th)
2014-2015: 2 games, 16.5 points (T-24th), 6.0 assists (T-20th), 7.5 rebounds (2nd), 32.4% fg% (28th), 36.5% 3pt% (13th), 3 TO (T-21st)
2015-2016: 1st game is March 2, 2016
Career: 14.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 32.8% fg%, 25.5% 3pt%, 3.2 TO
These struggles have to do with Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Lillard faced those three defenders whenever he faced the Celtics. All three of them are known for their hard nosed defense.
Celtics fans hope history repeats itself tonight at the TD Garden. 28 other NBA teams would love to find out how to slow down a steaming hot Damian Lillard.