How Would People View Damian Lillard If He Was Playing in the East?
- Damian Lillard has been playing out of his mind during the Blazers' win streak. The Open Floor crew offer their take on Lillard's hot stretch and how Portland would fare as a three seed in the playoffs.
In the latest episode of the Open Floor podcast, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver give their opinions on Damian Lillard's recent surge after the All-Star break and give their playoff outlook on the current third-seeded Blazers.
(The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity).
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Andrew Sharp: (Reads fan mail from user Senator Batman) Can we get some quick thoughts on the Blazers. They have now won eight straight. Dame is doing his two-week MVP impression. They are in third place for the moment and yet I want to be more excited than I'm actually am. What do you think?
Ben Golliver: Well I think the reason why he is not more excited is because of the warping effect that I mentioned earlier, where the teams in the 3-10 pact which is currently led by the Blazers are all good but not truly great. Portland is projected at 49 wins right now and the Warriors and the Rockets projection is basically 15 more wins. Both of those teams are projected to win 64 or plus. That's a huge gap and that's the kind of thing where you realize if your team did survive this dog fight and make it to the Western Conference finals or the second round and face one of those teams, you are going in there hoping to make it a five or six game series. So I think that is why there might not be that pure elation that usually comes with a three seed in the west like a team like Portland.
At the same time though, Damian Lillard probably heard Open Floor an episode or two ago where I said he was only a 30 percent three-point shooter in the clutch and tried to make it up completely against the Lakers the other night, where he basically he hit four consecutive three-pointers down the stretch or something ridiculous like that. He is peaking at the right time. He has done this previously but it is also another lesson I think in terms of of the recency effect because a lot of these teams have not just been able to maintain that high level of play like the Blazers are currently playing over the course of the entire season. I think some of Senator Batman's trepidation is coming from the fact that he remembers some of the uglier moments early this season and realizes if Dame starts to go cold or he's not red hot like he has been, then that team looks a lot different.
Sharp: I love that we created a forum where you can sincerely address Senator Batman. It's a great thing we built here (laughs). I have three thoughts on the Blazers. Number one, this is something you elitists from the Western Conference allege fairly often that there is an east coast bias. I really do think east coast bias is real when it comes to Damian Lillard because if he were having the last couple weeks he had in Boston, or New York or any major market in the east coast people would be losing their mind. There have been a couple games where he has gone nuts down the stretch and it's been so awesome. It's not nearly big of a story that it should be.
Golliver: Yea you guys would have books called "Lillardsanity" or something silly like that.
Sharp: (Laughs) Exactly! It would be "Linsanity" all over again. The other two thoughts are—number one when I was thinking about the third seed that was going to lose in the first round, I was thinking about the Blazers and I feel bad about that.
Golliver: You are breaking hearts out here.
Sharp: I think they are awesome and should enjoy this while it lasts. I feel like the Blazers have had the same season the past three years now where they are kind of like so-so out of the gate and people start to worry and ring their hands. Then Damian Lillard comes out of the All-Star break and is awesome. That's fun but I understand where Senator Batman is coming from where he is not that excited as he feels he should be because they have kind of been on this treadmill for a while here and I don't blame Blazers fans for getting a little restless. The last thing I was going to say is that, it is awesome to see Pat Connaughton still in the mix for them. He is someone that I loved in the draft and he has been a fairly reliable rotation player for the Blazers, which could be a red-flag for the bigger picture but he has been good.
Check out the full episode here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.