SAN ANTONIO – Being a leader on and off the court, Damian Lillard makes sure to get his mind right before every game, especially on a grueling six-game trip.
The Blazers tip-off their 11-day trip in San Antonio on Saturday night.
As Portland embarks on their first of two six-game trips this season, Lillard offered up his tips and tricks of handling a long road trip.
“I’m a big mental person,” Lillard said after Friday’s practice. “Just like what your mentality is, as in how you feed it, and usually on these type of trips I come in and I try not to think about it being a long trip and what teams we play and all of that stuff. I just come into it with like – I’m going to get some rest tonight, come out tomorrow and I’m going to have my mind sharp, have myself convinced that this is what I’m going to come into the game and do – I’m going to come in, I’m going to be aggressive, I’m going to come in and give the effort defensively.”
After Saturday’s game, the Blazers will visit Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and wrap things up next Tuesday in Chicago.
Portland is currently 3-4 on the road heading into Saturday’s contest.
Since the Trail Blazer All-Star point guard has been in the league, he has made sure to take the advice of not letting his mind wander.
“When we get to the next one, it’s like, alright, the first game is behind us. Let’s do the same thing over again. And, I always have been able to literally separate a six-game trip into one game every time, and it helps you not wear down when you don’t think about it all as one. It helps you mentally and physically stay sharp and strong,” Lillard said.
Rodney Hood mentioned how “a lot more team dinners together” will also be key in how the team is able to manage a long trip.
For Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, he finds peace of mind in his daily walks.
“When you’re old like me, walking is your exercise. San Antonio is a good walking city. In every NBA city I kind of have a path that I get my five-mile walk in,” Stotts said.
Coach Stotts also mentioned that life on the road means everyone needs to be better with managing their time.
Oh and what he brings with him in his suitcase is also a concern.
“Packing is the main issue,” Stotts said with a smile. “Making sure I’ve got three suits, six shirts, six ties, but as far as preparation -- it’s the NBA schedule you just get ready for the next game, some nights we’ll spend the night [after a game], some nights we won’t. A lot of it is just time management.”
Now with the Blazers and Spurs slated to tip-off at 5:30p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App (and on Blazers Pass), the Blazers are looking to even up the season series at one apiece.
What sticks with Lillard the most when thinking about the last time these two met nearly three weeks ago?
“Having a 19-point lead and blowing it,” Lillard said.
“I think we got off to a great start, defended, the ball was moving, and obviously it’s a game of runs. Teams, especially on their home floor are going to have moments, they’re going to find it and have stretched in games… But to go from up 19 to down 19… We blew it, that’s what comes to mind,“ Lillard said.
Coach Stotts gave more insight to their matchup against the Spurs during his pregame interview.
He also mentioned that Carmelo Anthony is in New York right now. Melo will get his physical there, and Stotts hopes to have him join the team in New Orleans on Tuesday.
HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS PREGAME HERE: