Damian Lillard claims Blazers are a better playoff matchup for Lakers than Grizzlies
According to the five-time All-Star point guard, the Blazers playing the Western Conference’s first overall seed, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the first round of the NBA playoffs would be a better matchup than the current eighth seed Memphis Grizzlies.
“I just feel like that would be the matchup people want to see,” Lillard told Chris Haynes in Yahoo Sports. “And not to say nobody wants to see Memphis, because they’re in the eighth and they’ve been in the eighth spot for a while. They’ve earned that. You can’t take anything away from Memphis. They play hard, they’re exciting and they’ve got a lot of young talent. The Lakers would have their hands full playing against them. Memphis beat the Lakers this year. Memphis would have nothing to lose. I feel like both series could be a little bit hectic for the Lakers, but I think more so us, because of the experience and where we are in our careers. Not too long ago, we played them in L.A. and obviously I had a great game and we won a close one, and in the playoffs, I’m sure they would come up with some type of game plan to not allow that to happen. But I want to compete. That’s what we want.”
Lillard, 29, a former Rookie of the Year winner, tried to downplay the Grizzlies’ current status clinching onto the last spot in the playoff outlook in the West, calling Memphis an “exciting” team. The Grizzlies, coincidentally, are led by another former college point-guard phenom coming out of a less publicized educational institution in Murray State’s Ja Morant, who could very well capture the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year distinction.
At the time of the NBA’s COVID-19 pandemic borne hiatus, in mid-March, the Blazers, as they do today during the suspension of play, stand 3.5 games back in the playoff picture—slightly behind Morant and the Grizzlies.
Should the NBA resume in one location, as it has been proposed and picked up momentum in recent weeks, Lillard and the Blazers could have an opportunity to close the gap and try to clinch a first-round postseason date with LeBron James and the Lakers. However, Lillard on Tuesday also claimed he could sit out of the NBA’s restart, casting a shadow over Portland’s chances in a resumed, shortened regular season.