Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0).
- Damian Lillard notched "a quiet 39" points in a Game 1 road loss to the Denver Nuggets.
- Matt Moore analyzes how Dame should approach Game 2 and what it means for his points and assist props.
DENVER — “We’ll have to give him different looks. We’re not going to come out to start the game and blitz him every time we get the chance. We’re going to give our guys the chance to guard him.”
Those were the words of Nuggets coach Michael Malone before Game 1 of Nuggets-Blazers in their second-round Western Conference playoff matchup, when I asked how high on his list of priorities “getting the ball out of Damian Lillard’s hands” would be.
Here’s what happened on the Blazers’ first possession:
They are throwing the kitchen sink at Lillard. He finished Game 1 with 39 points on 21 shots, with a 72.9% True Shooting percentage. Denver did everything and Lillard still put up a monstrous line.
And yet, it felt kind of empty. A “quiet 39, if there is such a thing” was something a league executive described it as to me afterward. Lillard got his, the Nuggets clamped down on everyone else, and their offense was enough.
Lillard had a 118 offensive rating in Game 1. He also had a 121 defensive rating because Jamal Murray got loose in the pick and roll and Nikola Jokic dominated all game.
So here’s the question. With an over/under of 29.5 for points and 6.5 assists, what’s the play?