Damian Lillard and his Portland Trail Blazers lost four consecutive games to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Still, the All-Star point guard believes they could’ve beaten Golden State if they had the services of injured center Jusef Nurkic during the series, according Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.
Damian Lillard: "In my mind, this was a shot for us to win it all. I thought we could have beaten the Warriors. If we had Nurk, it would be a completely different situation."
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) May 21, 2019
Nurkic, 24, was lost for the season on March 25, when he suffered a compound fracture in his left tibia and fibula against the Brooklyn Nets. It’s hard to deny that the Blazers weren’t a much better team without the center. Portland was on average 15 points better with Nurkic on the floor during the regular season. The center averaged 10.4 rebounds and 15.6 points per game.
One can see why Lillard believes the Blazers would’ve fared better with their starting center, especially considering Portland beat Golden State two of the four times they faced them this season with Nurkic in the lineup. Nurkic dropped over 20 points in three of those contests.
Still, the Blazers were unable to win a single game vs. the Warriors, and it’s hard to imagine one player being worth four wins, especially a zero time All-Star who is the third best player on the team. Also keep in mind that the Warriors were far below full strength during the entire series, something Draymond Green’s mom was happy to point out.
And if we had KD, Demarcus and Andre…
— Mary B (@BabersGreen) May 21, 2019
There’s always next year.