Even though Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen tragically passed away three days before the 2018-19 season started due to complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Damian Lillard and evan turner admit the team is still winning games because of him.
The Blazers had the third-best record in the Western Conference this season despite losing Allen.
Sunday’s Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder was the Blazers’ first playoff victory since 2016. And both Lillard and Turner firmly believe Paul Allen is still with them in spirits.
“I think we are having a big season because of him,” Turner said, via Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I know every time I’m out there, I always look to see if there’s anybody in his seat. Anyone who knew him, knew how important the team was to him. So, with how generous he was, and his love of the game, I think that’s what makes us feel so close to him.”
“We felt that way all season long,” Lillard said. “I felt that way just being a part of the organization. Sometimes I look over and I expect him to be in his seat, because I’m used to him being there in the front row, and I’m reminded that he is gone. As a group, we play with that.”
Damian Lillard was spectacular during the regular season, and he continued his stellar play in Game 1. The Blazers’ best player finished with 30 points while shooting 9-of-21 from the field.
Evan Turner wasn’t that big of a factor in Game 1, as the swingman only had two points. He did have four rebounds and three assists, though.