Damian Lillard delivered in the clutch Monday night to help the Portland Trail Blazers upset the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series.
Dame nailed a 30-footer to tie it up at 87 apiece, drilled a 36-footer to give the Blazers a 92-89 lead with 3:13 remaining and assisted Carmelo Anthony on a 3-pointer to give Portland a 95-89 advantage with 2:33 left in the game.
The Oakland native is playing the best basketball of his career in the bubble, and deserves all the praise he's been getting. The one problem, however, is when people use Lillard's success to knock Steph Curry.
ESPN's Max Kellerman is the latest to say something very, very silly
"Look at the moments in the game at which he's (Lillard) coming up biggest," Kellerman said Wednesday morning on "First Take." "Steph Curry, I believe, has turned over the years into a clutch player -- a 'money on the line in the Finals type player.' But he hasn't always been that way. A lot of times Steph did not play his best in the Finals.
"And we don't know -- let's see how deep Damian Lillard gets into the playoffs. He could still have bad games. But Damian Lillard is like Steph Curry, but a Steph Curry who gets better in the biggest moments."
Wait, what? Oh my. Where do we even start?
Let's make one thing very clear -- the intention here is not to disparage Lillard, or demean him in any way. Yours truly loves watching him play and wants him to succeed. Glad that is established.
As for Kellerman, he did note that Curry has become more clutch, and acknowledged the verdict still is out on Lillard because he has never reached the NBA Finals. Also, Curry has had some bad games and moments specifically in the Finals (but so has every player ever). Nobody will dispute that.
But Kellerman lost his mind by implying that Lillard rises to the occasion on the biggest stage, while Curry does not. It's complete nonsense and malpractice. There are a plethora of examples of the two-time NBA MVP elevating his game and leading the Warriors to victory. We don't have time to go through all of the amazing performances right now.
But we will remind you of several, and start with Game 5 of the 2015 NBA Finals:
In Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference semifinals in Portland, Curry returned after being sidelined over two weeks because of a sprained knee. The only unanimous NBA MVP ever racked up 40 points (16-for-32 FG) and eight assists, and his 17 overtime points are the most in a single OT in NBA history.
Do you recall what happened between the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference finals?
In Game 6 of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Curry scored all 33 of his points in the second half, and the Warriors (playing without Kevin Durant) outlasted Houston to punch their ticket to the Western Conference finals.
Hey speaking of the 2019 West finals -- are you old enough to remember what happened during the Warriors' sweep of the Blazers?
The defense rests its case.
In summation -- Dame is awesome, Steph is awesome and Kellerman said something that doesn't make any sense.