The Portland Trailblazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday night and the 4-0 series defeat proved that Portland isn’t close to competing with one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Portland guard Damian Lillard’s competitive spirit came out in postgame comments he made to ESPN that showed just how dedicated he can be to the Blazers’ overall success.
“You have to be obsessed with that because you know that they’re so good that they’re going to be there,” Lillard said after Game 4. “That’s who you’re going to have to get through to get to where you want to get to. That’s what it is.”
Although Lillard had another strong season and the Blazers made a strong push down the stretch to make the NBA Playoffs, he isn’t satisfied with how the season turned out.
“I wouldn’t say it was a successful year,” Lillard said.
“We got tested, and I think we answered the bell. I felt like we showed our true colors by the way we fought. But I wouldn’t say successful. I think it was growth. A year of growth for us.”
Lillard believes that in order to be successful in the Western Conference, you have to beat the Golden State Warriors.
“You also got to understand that if you ever want to get out of the West, you’re going to have to go through them,” Lillard said.
“And for me, I understand that’s what it is. It’s always been that way in the NBA. I think about when the Pistons were just beating up on [Michael] Jordan. [They] were just kicking his butt every year, and he had to get through them if he wanted to get to where he wanted to get to. That’s just what it is. [The Warriors are] going to be there. They’re going to be there every year. We have to look at that and understand that we got to be better. We have to go get better, and come back better as a group if we want to move past them.”
Although there may be a somber feeling around Blazers Nation today, Warriors forward Kevin Durant had some encouraging words for both Lillard and the Blazers team, which he believes are only a few pieces away from competing.
“I think they want somebody on the wing that can take the pressure off those two guards [C.J. McCollum and Lillard], somebody that’s big for their position. But they’re right there, man. They’re a good team. They started off slow. I think they should have been a higher seed, but they fought their way to get in the playoffs. They have a future center in [Jusuf] Nurkic who took them over the top, but I think they need another ball handler on the wing to get them going. It’s going to be fun playing against these guys in the next few years.”
While the Blazers didn’t put up much of a fight during the short series with the Warriors, they made an impression on their way out of the NBA Playoffs.