Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Damian Lillard believes his Portland Trail Blazers are going to return to the playoffs in 2019, and he thinks it’s the little things that will make a difference, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:
Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports
Is there a better quote than @Dame_Lillard in the NBA? Here’s his response to my question about people thinking Portland will get squeezed out of the playoffs. https://t.co/tLhqEPBXLs
The Blazers earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference last season with a 49-33 record, but they were only one game ahead of the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans that swept them in Round 1. The Denver Nuggets were three games behind Portland and missed the playoffs.
With the Los Angeles Lakers adding LeBron James and several other teams getting better, there are too many playoff contenders in the West without enough spots.
Considering the Trail Blazers made few improvements in the offseason, there are reasonable arguments to be made that they will be the odd team out.
Still, Lillard put the team on his back last season and finished fourth in MVP voting. He also listed his squad’s “mentality,” “toughness” and “character as things that will help put it over the top.
Over the course of an 82-game season, these factors could make a major difference in earning a playoff spot.