Damian Lillard denies saying Warriors 'due,' but confident in Blazers' chances

Damian Lillard denies saying Warriors 'due,' but confident in Blazers' chances

SAN FRANCISCO -- Eyebrows were raised Monday morning when a quote from Damian Lillard started circulating in which the Portland Trail Blazers star supposedly told a Denver Nuggets ball boy that the Warriors were "due" to be beaten in the playoffs.

Later Monday, Lillard adamantly denied saying that during his first media availability for the Western Conference finals bout with the Dubs. 

"I didn't say that, for one," Lillard said. "He was ear hustling on a conversation that I was having with someone and I wasn't even talking about the Warriors. That's unprofessional and I was disappointed by that just because you don't try to ear hustle and then quote me as saying something that I didn't say, especially when you're standing right next to me and you could have just asked me."

Just because he didn't say that doesn't mean he has doubts his team can compete with and dethrone the Warriors.

The Blazers split the season series with the Warriors this season, and are 4-3 against the two-time defending NBA champions in the past two seasons, including Lillard's game-winning shot at Oracle Arena in December.

Needless to say, Lillard likes the Blazers' chances in their first conference finals since 2000.

"I'm really confident," Lillard said. "Like Casey said, we split the season series with them. We've won on their floor and on our floor. So, I think that shows we know we are capable of winning. We know we are capable of beating them. We just have to go out there and do it. Put it on the floor." 

The Blazers will face an uphill battle starting Tuesday night in Game 1 at Oracle Arena. 

Without Jusuf Nurkic and potentially Rodney Hood, the Blazers will have to rely heavily on Lillard and fellow backcourt star CJ McCollum to carry the load against the Warriors.

While the chips might be stacked against the Blazers, Lillard isn't scared of the Warriors, who play a similar style to Portland. 

"Yeah, I think we match up pretty well with them," Lillard said. "Our last series was against guys like Paul Millsap and (Nikola) Jokic. Huge bodies in the paint. They gave us a lot of trouble on the glass. They threw it on the block and was just a handful. We had to double-team and put ourselves out of position to rebound the ball. So, they gave us a lot of trouble with their size.

"I think with Golden State they are much more of a perimeter-oriented team. They do a lot of screening and cutting and shooting a lot of threes and stuff like that. Not really throwing the ball to the block. So, I think it's a much better matchup for us." 

Entering the playoffs, few thought the Blazers could make it out of Round 1, but Lillard blowtorched Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in Round 1. A grueling seven-game series with the Nuggets ended Sunday when McCollum dropped 37 to book a date with the Warriors.

{RELATED: Expect fireworks in Dubs-Blazers matchup in West final]

Now, Lillard, an Oakland native, gets his shot at the NBA's king.

They might be underdogs, but they've got a chance.. That's all Lillard needs.

Watch Steph Curry, Klay Thompson's 10 most clutch shots with Warriors

Watch Steph Curry, Klay Thompson's 10 most clutch shots with Warriors

If you're a Warriors fan and you woke up Thursday feeling very nostalgic, it makes perfect sense:

In honor of the historic day, we decided to put together the top 10 most-clutch shots from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

These are in chronological order and only include the postseason.


1) In Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs in 2015, the Warriors trailed the New Orleans Pelicans by 15 points with less than five minutes remaining. Somehow, this happened:

Curry finished with 40 points and Golden State outlasted New Orleans in overtime to take a commanding three-games-to-zero series lead.

2) Curry sprained his right MCL in Game 4 of the Warriors' first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets in 2016. He missed the next four games before returning for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Through three quarters, he was 0-for-9 from 3-point range. But he started to heat up in the fourth and then proceeded to score 17 points in overtime -- the most in a single OT in NBA history.

Hey, speaking of that "I'm here, I'm back" shot:

The Warriors won 132-125 to take a three-games-to-one series lead.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

3) 4) 5) These three shots really don't need introductions:

Unbelievable stuff.

6) In Game 6 of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Steph didn't score a single point in the first half (Klay kept the Warriors afloat with 21 points). But then he did this:

7) And then about a minute later:

As Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on "The Bill Simmons Podcast" months back:

"If I look back at these last five years -- if I had to say what was my favorite game -- it would be Game 6 in Houston last year. Holy s--t. This defines our team. This game defines what our guys are about.

We had a possession late in the game that sealed it basically. Remember, Steph and Draymond were running that side pick-and-roll over and over again and Steph was going nuts.

The final dagger was -- Houston had adjusted, they double teamed Steph, he hits Draymond in the pocket, they come over to rotate to Draymond, he hits Andre along the baseline and Andre kicks it back to Klay for a 3-pointer.

That play to me defines what our team has been about for the last five years. The ball movement, the spacing, the beautiful vision and awareness of Andre and Draymond, and the lethal play of Steph and Klay."

8) 9) 10) In Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, the Warriors -- facing elimination -- led the Toronto Raptors 95-91 with less than six minutes remaining. But the Raptors went on a big run and led 103-97 with just over two minutes and 30 seconds left.

Klay got things going in the right direction with a 3-pointer to make it 103-100 at the 2:32 mark. These two shots followed:

[RELATED: Watch 12 shots from Steph's career that ruined basketball]

The "Splash Brothers" have provided the Warriors and their fans some incredible memories.

And everybody associated with the Dubs is hoping they force this article to be updated over the next couple of years.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

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Odds of Rockets missing 27 straight 3-pointers vs. Warriors was insane

Odds of Rockets missing 27 straight 3-pointers vs. Warriors was insane

It was a (non) shooting display unlike anything we have ever seen.

On this day two years ago, May 28, 2018, the Houston Rockets set an NBA playoff record by missing 27 consecutive 3-pointers in their Game 7 loss to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

The Rockets led by 15 points in the first half, but due to a classic Warriors third-quarter explosion -- and all those Houston missed 3s-- Golden State walked away with a 101-92 victory.

It’s a highlight that has been the bane of the Rockets’ existence for the last two years, and one that Warriors fans love to jeer about at any given moment.

But just how unlikely were those 27 straight misses?

Two years ago, FiveThirtyEight did the math and well, it was highly improbable.

As in, 1-in-72,000 improbable.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

FiveThirtyEight published a story the day after the game that used Quantified Shot Probability (qSP) data in order to “weigh the likelihood of a shot going in depending on who’s taking it, how close the nearest defender is to the shot, and how quickly that player is closing out — from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats, which use high-level cameras to track on-court movement.”

With this data in hand, FiveThirtyEight concluded that the “Rockets embarked on an approximately 1-in-72,000 cold streak from deep at the worst possible time, with a trip to the Finals on the line.”


The Rockets’ misses were spread pretty evenly throughout the team, led by James Harden, of course, who went 0-10 during the span (Harden shot 36.7 percent from deep during the 2017-18 regular season). Eric Gordon (35.9 percent) missed seven, and Trevor Ariza (36.8 percent) missed six of his own.

[RELATED: Watch Steph and Klay's 10 most clutch shots of career]

Happy two-year anniversary to this glorious game, Warriors fans. And remember next time the odds might seem long, remember that stranger things have happened. 

One-in-72,000 strange.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]