The five-time All-Star discussed the season restart Tuesday with Shams Charania of Stadium:
Shams Charania @ShamsCharania
Blazers star @Dame_Lillard sits down on @Stadium: Risks/rewards of NBA restart, life inside the Orlando campus, and a July birthday challenge ("I’m not trying to go there and waste a month and a half and go home. I’m going to stay and extend my stay"). https://t.co/aFHxM3gR9T
"I'm not trying to go there and waste a month and a half and just go back home," he said. "I could've been at home this whole time, you know what I'm saying? If I go there, I'm going to stay. I'm going to try to extend my stay there. That's also motivation."
Portland is one of 13 Western Conference teams heading to Orlando, with six teams effectively vying for the No. 8 seed.
The Blazers are currently 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for a playoff spot, although they will get a chance to play their way in if they are in ninth place and within four games after the eight seeding games. Even for that chance, they will have to beat out the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.
Despite the uphill battle, Lillard believes his team can make a run in the postseason.
The guard noted everyone throughout the league is coming back with rust, while other teams have players who aren't playing and others who may be disinterested. It could open things up for the Trail Blazers to pull off a surprise.
"I think that's part of my motivation knowing there's a legit chance, even more so than when the season went away," Lillard said.
Portland is expecting Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back on the floor after the two big men played just three combined games this season.
Lillard and CJ McCollum led this team to the Western Conference finals a year ago and should get more help from Nurkic, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside and others. While there is a lot of depth in the West this year, a deep run is not out of the question.