Big Z’s Big Summer: Zach Collins still preparing to play multiple positions

Big Z’s Big Summer: Zach Collins still preparing to play multiple positions

Don’t put a label on Zach Collins, even if the assumption is Collins will start at power forward this upcoming season. 

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts will have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to his rotation, but what he does with his starting lineup is most intriguing. Portland traded small forward Maurice Harkless and did not re-sign free agent power forward Al-Farouq Aminu. And with all of the new faces sporting the pinwheel next season, how they'll blend together will be paramount. 

Collins’ mindset has not changed, however, despite the free agency moves.

 “If I do play a lot at the four, it’s going to be a lot more perimeter orientated… I never really want to get away too much from being inside and being effective inside. But, if I can find playing time at the four, then I’m all for it, and I’m going in and I’m going to attack that and try to be the best four I can be. If I’m the five, same thing,” Collins said.

The third-year player made it clear: He does not want to be labeled.

“I think that’s something that makes me unique, is that I can try to do a little bit of both. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m prepared to do the four and five,” Collins said.

For the Blazers captain Damian Lillard, he’s excited about Collins, as well as second year guard Anfernee Simons.

“I’m excited about Zach. Zach and Ant, I think these guys have a huge summer in front of them... They can really be what can make us take that next step, especially with what we’ve added,” Lillard said at his annual kids basketball camp last week.

For Collins and his huge summer, he is focusing on getting his body where he wants it to be.  

The 21-year-old stayed in Portland for a month immediately after the season concluded to continue his workouts. He admits he did give himself a couple of weeks off, but his schedule has since returned to a similar, but more refined version of what he has done in the last two offseasons.  

“Just come in in the morning and lift and then workout on the court or vice versa. Then, in the afternoon, just do active recovery, like yoga, or do some extra cardio or do something like that just to continue to stay in shape, whether that be extra shots here and there or whatever,” Collins said.

[RELATED]: The tendon "recently just re-attached": An injury update on Zach Collins' thumb

Collins came into the league listed at 215 pounds. Although, Big Z begs to differ. “I’m going to give myself 220,” he said. For Collins to progress in the NBA, he knew he'd have to put on weight.

But, it's about having a well-rounded approach to adding pounds, and not adding it too quickly.

“The most important thing for me is to get my body right in the weight room and then translate that to the court. So, dribbling, shooting, making moves isn’t really affected by the weight,” Collins said.

The 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft has a strict diet this summer.  

“A lot of protein,” Collins smiled when talking about his diet. “Obviously trying to eat at least four or five times a day. I got a chef before last season to come in and make me some meals before and after games, just so I’m getting the right amount of calories in and getting protein… just to stay consistent with it.”

“I think 250 [pounds] is a good goal to come in at and start the season – between 250 and 255,” Collins added. “I think that’s very realistic. I’ve already put on four or five [pounds] since the season ended.”

[RELATED]: Is Zach Collins getting enough respect from officials as a defender?

Besides Collins’ chef, two others have played a major role in his consistent development this offseason.   

Collins was quick to give accolades to Trail Blazers Sports Performance Specialists Todd Forcier and Ben Kenyon.

“I think we have one of the best, if not the best strength coaches in the league in Todd and Ben Kenyon. They’re just really proactive… They embrace old school methods with new school methods, and they’re never opposed to trying new things, and they’re always looking for a better way to do something. So, working with guys like that every day has been a huge part of my development,” Collins said.

Forcier concluded his ninth season with the Trail Blazers in 2018-19, while Kenyon completed his sixth season with the Blazers in 2018-19.

The two are big on recovery time.

“You can always say just ‘go, go, go’ but [Ben and Todd] are huge on recovery,” Collins said. “They’re huge on having days where even if you’re in the weight room, you’re not going heavy, you’re going mobility. So just working with that staff consistently and making sure that I’m eating right has been huge for me.”

Collins has been keeping in touch with Forcier over text messages this summer.

The Blazers’ trainers have also made sure Collins is not putting on weight too quickly.

“They understand that you can’t just throw on 10 pounds in two weeks and expect to feel good on the court. It’s all about putting strength on, not just weight and being able to still do what I do, which is use my feet, use my quickness,” Collins said.   

Collins, the power forward or center, is taking his summer seriously for a big 2019-20 season. 

How to Watch & Stream Blazers vs. Nets, coverage begins at 4:30pm

How to Watch & Stream Blazers vs. Nets, coverage begins at 4:30pm

It all comes down to the final seeding games in the West.

Which two teams will be playing this weekend in the play-in games and which team will be the No. 8 seed heading into Saturday's game?

We will know Thursday night.  

Heading into the final day of seeding games, four teams are within a half-game of each other for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

8. Portland Trail Blazers | Remaining schedule: Brooklyn (Win Percentage: 0.465)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (0.5 games behind)| Remaining Schedule: Milwaukee (Win Percentage: 0.458) 

10. Phoenix Suns (0.5 games behind)| Remaining schedule: Dallas (Win Percentage: 0.458) 

11. San Antonio Spurs (0.5 games behind)| Remaining schedule: Utah (Win Percentage: 0.457) 

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard has put his team on his back with the Blazers eyeing the No. 8 seed. Portland has sole possession of the eighth spot following the Blazers’ 131-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday in which Lillard dazzled.

The Blazers point guard finished with 61 points. He hit 17 of his 32 shots, went 9-of-17 from three-point range and made all 18 of his free throws.

And now it all comes down to Thursday’s battle of games in the Western Conference.

You can catch Thursday’s Blazers-Nets game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers with tip-off set for 6:00pm. Our coverage starts at 4:30pm with ‘Blazers Game Day’ followed by ‘Blazers Warm-up’ at 5:00p.m. and ‘Blazers Pregame’ at 5:30pm.

Plus, to wrap up a Blazers Game Day, check out ‘Blazers Outsiders’ immediately following the 'Blazers Postgame Show.'

Or if you can’t get to a TV, stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

Plus, for full coverage of Portland’s eighth and final seeding game make sure to follow Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team throughout the day. Follow us on social for the latest updates. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

  

Injury Reports:

The Nets have listed Chris Chiozza (right adductor; tightness) and Donta Hall (right ankle; sprain) as questionable, while Jamal Crawford (left hamstring; strain) is out for Thursday's game vs. the Blazers. 

Quote of the Week:  

 Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to Tuesday's game against the Mavericks that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman's terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

Following Tuesday’s win, Damian Lillard discussed his confidence and appreciation for McCollum playing through pain when the Blazers need him as they make their final playoff push:  

He’s a little bit banged up. He’s making no excuses or looking for no way out. He’s thuggin' it out for the team and being out there for us, and fortunate for us, him doing that meant he was out there for those last free throws and came through for us. -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard on CJ McCollum

Top Game Notes: 

  • All-Time: Trail Blazers lead, 64-25
     
  • Thursday's game will be the second of two meetings between the Trail Blazers and the Nets during the 2019-20 season. Brooklyn leads the season series, 1-0.
     
  • Last Meeting: The Nets defeated the Trail Blazers in Portland on Nov. 8, 119-115. Damian Lillard scored what was then a franchise-record 60 points (19-33 FG, 7-16 3-PT, 15-15 FT) to go with four rebounds and five assists in the loss. Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 34 points (12-27 FG, 4-8 3-PT, 5-5 FT), five rebounds, four assists and a steal in 35 minutes of the bench.
     
  • Damian Lillard has scored at least 31 points in three of his last four games against the Nets. He has topped 30 points in six of his 15 career games against Brooklyn.
     
  • In his last four games against the Nets, Jusuf Nurkic has averaged 27.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.75 blocks.
     
  • CJ McCollum was held to eight points (4-19 FG) and five rebounds in the Nov. 8 meeting. • Joe Harris scored 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-4 3-PT, 2-2 FT) to go with five rebounds, one assist and one block against Portland on Nov. 8.

----

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard is making sure Blazers' Disney World trip isn't a 'waste of time' 

[RELATED]: CJ McCollum, playing with fracture in lower back, hits 2 free throws to seal win 

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

Breaking down NBA playoff scenarios for the 8th Seed in the Western Conference

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard believes his late cousin, Chef B, is looking after him  

[RELATED]: Move over, Wilt Chamberlain -- make room for Damian Lillard in 60-point club 

 

 

Eye on the Eight: How the Blazers can get the 8th seed, 9th seed, or be eliminated

Eye on the Eight: How the Blazers can get the 8th seed, 9th seed, or be eliminated

For the NBA, the race for the eighth seed could not have gone better.

All the postseason matchups in both conferences were set following Wednesday's games with the exception of who will face the West's top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. The LA Clippers clinched the West's second seed with a 124-111 win over the Denver Nuggets, who are now locked in with the three seed.

Here are the Westen Conference playoff match-ups:

No. 1 Lakers vs. No. 8 ????

No. 2 Clippers vs. No. 7 Mavericks 

No. 3 Nuggets vs. No. 6 Jazz

No. 4 Thunder vs. No. 5 Rockets 

Heading into the final day of seeding games, four teams are within a half-game of each other for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

8. Portland Trail Blazers | Remaining schedule: Brooklyn (Win Percentage: 0.465)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (0.5 games behind)| Remaining Schedule: Milwaukee (Win Percentage: 0.458)

10. Phoenix Suns (0.5 games behind)| Remaining schedule: Dallas (Win Percentage: 0.458)

11. San Antonio Spurs (0.5 games behind)| Remaining schedule: Utah (Win Percentage: 0.457)

Due to the season's suspension, not all teams played the same number of games so the first tiebreaker is win percentage which favors Portland in each matchup.

Then, it will go to head-to-head record, followed by division record if in the same division, then conference record, then conference record against playoff teams, then record against playoff teams in the East, and then net rating.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Play-in games are a guarantee for the eighth seed in the West since the nine seed will definitely finish within four games of the eighth seed. The eighth and ninth seeds in the West will face off on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT. If the eighth seed wins then they will advance to the first round of the playoffs to face the Los Angeles Lakers. If the ninth seed wins on Saturday, then the two teams will have a rematch on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT where the winner will advance to the postseason.

Here's what needs to happen for each team in the race for the eighth seed on Thursday to get the eighth seed, the ninth seed, or be eliminated. 

Portland will be seeded:

  • #8 if Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs lose
  • #9 if Blazers lose and loss by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs
  • ELIMINATED if Blazers lose and wins by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs

Memphis will be seeded:

  • #8 if Grizzlies win and Blazers lose
  • #9 if Grizzlies win and Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs all lose
  • ELIMINATED if Grizzlies lose and wins by either Suns or Spurs

Phoenix will be seeded:

  • #8 if Suns win and Blazers and Grizzlies both lose
  • #9 if Suns win and Blazers or Grizzlies lose
  • ELIMINATED if Suns lose

San Antonio will be seeded:

  • #8 if Spurs win and Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns all lose
  • #9 if Spurs win and loss by any two of Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns
  • ELIMINATED if Spurs lose

With four teams all playing one final seeding game on Thursday, there are 16 potential different outcomes of the four games. In nine of them, the Blazers are the eighth seed. In three of them, they are the ninth seed and in another three they are the tenth seed. Then, in one scenario they are the eleventh seed. 

Full playoff scenarios of who will play who can be found here depending on how each team wins.

[RELATED]: Breaking down NBA playoff scenarios for the 8th Seed in the Western Conference

Play-in games schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, August 15 at 11:30 a.m. PT

Game 2 (if necessary): Sunday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m. PT 

Next up: The Portland Trail Blazers will look to clinch the eighth seed against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, August 13th at 6:00 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports NW. 

One more conspiracy theory: Do you think NBA wants Trail Blazers to face the Lakers?

One more conspiracy theory: Do you think NBA wants Trail Blazers to face the Lakers?

You've already heard that conspiracy theory about NBA coaches doing all they can to help the Trail Blazers win seeding games, because they think the Trail Blazers have the best chance to beat the Lakers, right?

Well, I've got another theory for you that was passed along to me Wednesday night.

Ponder this one as you settle in tonight to watch Portland battle Brooklyn. This is a game that guarantees the Trail Blazers the eighth seed if they win, but could send them home if they lose.

The theory is that the NBA really needs the Lakers -- and, of course, LeBron James -- to make it to the NBA Finals. TV ratings, you know. So if the NBA has been listening to all the insiders and former players who believe Portland has a great chance to knock off Los Angeles in the first round, well...

Do you think the people who run this league would want the Lakers to have to face that kind of threat in the first round? You have to admit it would at least make them a little nervous.

And do you think that message would be sent to the officials for tonight's game? No offense, but the teams aren't exactly getting a blue-ribbon, NBA Finals-caliber crew with Eric Lewis, Gediminis Petraitis and JT Orr slated to work the game.

Now I'm not saying this could happen, but the NBA has always been a hotbed for conspiracy theories and it's my pleasure to pass this one along.

Can Damian Lillard, Blazers put the fear in LA Lakers?

Can Damian Lillard, Blazers put the fear in LA Lakers?

The Portland Trail Blazers have been the team to watch since the NBA restart.

Damian Lillard has been playing out of his mind the last two games, and the Blazers look like they can cause some problems when the playoffs come around.

And the first team that will be on the calendar for the Blazers when the playoffs start and they land the 8th seed? The Los Angeles Lakers.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

So far in the bubble, the Lakers have been a far shell of themselves over the last seven games.

Yes, they have clinched the No.1 seed in the West, but they stand at 3-4 since the restart, they rank dead last in 3-point shooting percentage (25.4%), last in field goal percentage (41.1%), and both LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been struggling on the floor and can’t seem to score.

With that being said, should the Lakers be afraid of this new-and-improved Trail Blazers team?

Yes, they should be.

Last week, Richard Jefferson joined host Channing Frye on the Talkin' Blazers Podcast and talked about how the Blazers facing the Lakers could be “the most anticipated matchup that the NBA has seen in years,” and he isn’t wrong.

[RELATED]: Richard Jefferson: Blazers - Lakers would be 'most anticipated 1st-round matchup' in years

With Damian Lillard playing the way he is playing, Carmelo Anthony showing signs of his old self, CJ McCollum hopefully being at full strength, and Gary Trent Jr. lighting it up behind the arc, the possibility of the Blazers outscoring the Lakers is looking more likely now than ever.

The idea of the Lakers losing to a team such as the Blazers early on in the playoffs is becoming a realistic possibility every time Portland and Lillard show up to play.

The Lakers will mostly be the favorite to win the series, of course, but don’t count the Blazers out just yet.

This team with Lillard leading the way could take that series down-to-the-wire and have Lakers fans really concerned.

How Giannis Antetokounmpo’s suspension impacts the Trail Blazers’ playoff race 

How Giannis Antetokounmpo’s suspension impacts the Trail Blazers’ playoff race 

After letting his emotions get the best of him, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been suspended for one game without pay, the NBA announced Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo was ejected early in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s tilt between the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards after he head-butted Wizards forward Moritz Wagner. Following the disturbing incident, Antetokounmpo was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected from the game. 

Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds for the Bucks this season, will now miss Milwaukee’s last seeding game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday. This might not mean much to the Bucks or the reigning MVP, but it could have a tremendous impact on the Trail Blazers.

Portland snagged sole possession of the eight-seed in the Western Conference after taking down the Mavs with a 134-131 victory in Orlando, but the Grizzlies are still hot on their trail at just 0.5 games back.

With the Bucks star sidelined, the Grizzlies now have a substantial chance at winning Thursday’s game. It’s also worth noting Milwaukee really has nothing to play for considering it clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference awhile back. On the flip side, the Grizzlies are 1-6 in the NBA bubble and this game may not be as easy as they think it is.

[RELATED: Ja Morant said NBA's play-in wasn't fair & now the Grizzlies need it]

Here’s a look at some of the scenarios could unfold on Thursday:

Portland will be seeded:

  • #8 if Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs lose
  • #9 if Blazers lose and loss by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs
  • ELIMINATED if Blazers lose and wins by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs

Memphis will be seeded:

  • #8 if Grizzlies win and Blazers lose
  • #9 if Grizzlies win and Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs all lose
  • ELIMINATED if Grizzlies lose and wins by either Suns or Spurs

If you are a Trail Blazers fan, you are also keeping your eye on the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, who are also 0.5 games back at 10th and 11th in the West respectively. 

Phoenix will be seeded:

  • #8 if Suns win and Blazers and Grizzlies both lose
  • #9 if Suns win and Blazers or Grizzlies lose
  • ELIMINATED if Suns lose

San Antonio will be seeded:

  • #8 if Spurs win and Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns all lose
  • #9 if Spurs win and loss by any two of Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns
  • ELIMINATED if Spurs lose

With Antetokounmpo benched, the Grizzlies have a real shot at salvaging their NBA bubble woes and squeaking into a playoff spot. If it wasn't clearly stated before, the Trail Blazers game vs. the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. is once again a must-win.

"That's the most important game of our lives," Damian Lillard told TNT in an on-court interview after Tuesday’s win over the Mavs. "Tonight was great. We said we need one win. We're going to focus on one game. We got this one done. And that's the most important one. We got to finish it out right."

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]

Damian Lillard is ‘Jesus, masquerading in Adidas’

Damian Lillard is ‘Jesus, masquerading in Adidas’

For the last two games, Damian Lillard has been playing like he is gunning for the NBA bubble MVP and most certainly for a spot in the playoffs. 

Dropping 51 points against the 76ers and following it with 61 points against the Mavericks to help keep the Blazers alive and in the 8th seed, Dame is a man on a mission since his missed free throw attempts against the Clippers last Saturday.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Now we know Skip Bayless has been a hater, not giving Lillard the credit he justly deserves.

[RELATED]: Skip Bayless refuses to give Damian Lillard credit where credit is due

Bayless’ ‘Undisputed’ co-host Shannon Sharpe, on the other hand, has been quite amazed at what Lillard has been doing.

So much so, Sharpe went so far as to make a Divine comparison. You guessed it: Jesus.

I was thinking to myself, you know what? That is Jesus.. masquerading as Dame Lillard in Adidas - -Shannon Sharpe

As bold of a statement as that may be, Lillard has been showing up and showing out in this restart when the Blazers need him.

Scoring 112 points in the last two games is a statement on its own, and it’s good to see at least one of the hosts from FS1’s Undisputed can see the incurable play Lillard has been displaying.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Big Z's bubble: There's no limit to who Zach Collins will trash talk

Big Z's bubble: There's no limit to who Zach Collins will trash talk

It's time to get the latest scoop from the NBA Bubble with Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins! 

There’s no doubt Zach Collins has been the biggest Bubble source for us here at NBC Sports Northwest.

Over the past few weeks, the Trail Blazers 7-footer has taken us on a tour of the team’s hotel’s pop-up barbershop and given us a look at how the NBA is keeping the Blazers fed! Plus, we’ve learned a lot more about Collins as well.

With this being the final week of seeding games for the Trail Blazers, it also means it's the last week of 'Big Z’s Bubble' features. Zach has been answering the best questions from social media -- live from Orlando.

This week's questions are top notch. Good work once again, Rip City! 

Avolon on Instagram wanted to know: Who has better style – Zach Collins or Jususf Nurkic?

Sure, nobody will be surprised by Collins’ answer in the video above, but just wait until you hear that confidence in his voice while answering this question!  

[RELATED]: Zach Collins still gets hate mail from Warriors fans after run-in with Klay Thompson

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]:

Also, here’s a SPOILER ALERT for GONZAGA FANS:  

Collins and his fellow Gonzaga alumni have been getting together to have dinner in the bubble.

RipCity on Twitter asked: How often do you hang out with players from other teams?

There’s a lot of Zags in the bubble… We’ve been to a couple of dinners with each other. We’ve done that. But besides that, I haven’t’ really hung out with too many people in the bubble. It’s mostly just been my teammates… But definitely the Zags – we’ve gotten together a couple of times. That’s awesome – seeing people you played with and then talking with people who have been in the Gonzaga program and have had different experiences, and sharing those stories with each other is pretty cool. -- Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

Thanks to Plata B on Instagram we now have a better understanding of Zach’s trash talking game after Collins answered this question:

Is there anyone in the league you won’t talk trash to?

Short answer: NO.

Long answer:

I’m not a guy who goes out of my way to talk trash. I think that kind of gets me out of focus on what’s going on. I think my play needs to do the talking. BUT, if a player comes at me or if I feel like they’re taking cheap shots at me, we’re gonna have a conversation, for sure. And that stuff just gets me going… There’s not a limit of who I go at, if they go at me. -- Zach Collins

P.S. – We also learn more about Big Z being a big fan of LaMarcus Aldridge.

Yep, this is a fun-filled 'Big Z’s Bubble !' You can check out the final installment of ‘Big Z’s Bubble’ right here or you can also watch the video above.

And be sure to catch Collins and the Trail Blazers Thursday night on the official network of the Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest! Coverage starts at 4:30p.m. with 'Blazers Game Day' followed by 'Blazers Warm-up' at 5:00p.m. and 'Blazers Pregame' at 5:30p.m. And then it's the Blazers vs. the Brooklyn Nets at 6:00p.m.

Don't miss a second of the action on NBCSNW or by downloading the MyTeams App to live stream the game.

Adidas drops Dame 6 prices to $61 to celebrate Lillard’s 61-point outburst 

Adidas drops Dame 6 prices to $61 to celebrate Lillard’s 61-point outburst 

Damian Lillard is racking up more than just numbers on the court. 

After the Trail Blazers star poured 61 points over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night, Adidas is celebrating Lillard, who joined the legendary Wilt Chamberlain as the only player in the league with three 60-point games in a single season.

In honor of Dame’s 61-point barrage, Adidas has lowered the prices of his Dame 6 signature shoes (and several Dame 5s) to just $61 for a limited time. This is quite the deal as Lillard fans would typically have to fork out $110 to snag a pair of Dame’s signature kicks.

Since signing to three stripes in 2012, Lillard has released six signature shoes and seventh model is anticipated for later. The kicks Dame rocked vs. the Mavs are also available with a price tag of you guessed it-- $61. 

It’s a win-win for Lillard, who has been absolutely dismantling teams in the NBA bubble, and cashing in big in his bank account thanks to his off-the-court endeavors.  

The five-time NBA All Star torched Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on Tuesday night as the Trail Blazers took sole possession of the eighth seed in the Western Conference after an impressive 134-131 win over the Mavericks. Lillard scored 61 points, 22 of which came in the fourth quarter,

Now you can channel your inner Lillard Time by copping a pair of Dame 6s at this exclusive price.

Sizes are going quick, fam, so get your Dame’s while before they are out of stock. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Ja Morant said NBA's play-in wasn't fair & now the Grizzlies need it

Ja Morant said NBA's play-in wasn't fair & now the Grizzlies need it

Heading into the NBA's restart in Orlando, the Memphis Grizzlies held a 3.5 game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

However, the Grizzlies were not guaranteed a playoff berth heading into the restart with the NBA instead electing for a play-in tournament, if necessary. As long as the ninth seed in the West was within 3.5 games of the eighth seed, a series of games would be played to determine who will advance to the Western Conference Playoffs. The eighth seed would only need to win once while the ninth seed would need to win twice.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Before beginning the seeding games in Orlando, Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant was asked by ESPN's Rachel Nichols if he felt the play-in format for the eighth seed was fair.

He did not.

Honestly, I don’t think so, but we can't control that. Only thing we can control is how, you know, we go out and attack each of these games before that decision is made. -- Ja Morant

[RELATED]: Ja Morant says NBA's play-in format isn't fair ahead of game vs. Blazers

The Grizzlies felt there was no way they could blow a 3.5 game lead for a playoff spot with 17 games remaining. They managed to do it in seven, losing possession of the eighth seed Tuesday evening following the Portland Trail Blazers' victory over Dallas. 

Memphis went from being seen as the far and away favorite to get the eighth seed after the seeding games with -120 odds in Westgate, to not even being the eighth seed in the West with one seeding game to go. A disastrous 1-6 record in the seeding games leaves the Grizzlies in danger of not even making the play-in series due to the hot play of Phoenix and San Antonio.

The Grizzlies can still earn the ninth seed with a win over the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks, on Thursday.

"What motivates us is that 1-6 record, that's not good enough for us," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters. "We've got a chance against the best team in the league on Thursday and whatever we can throw at 'em, we've got to throw it all on the line and see what happens after that."

With the East's top seed locked up, Mike Budenholzer may rest his starters. But, if he chooses to play them for even just the first half, the Bucks and their 9.7 net rating could easily eliminate the Grizzlies from postseason contention. 

"One game left. Attack that game as any other game," Ja Morant said following a loss to Boston on Tuesday. "Don't put any pressure on ourselves and go out and try to do what we do every game, try to get a win."

Two weeks ago, Ja Morant was saying the play-in format was unfair. Now, he and his team are relying on it to continue their season.