Damian Lillard Plans to Extend His Stay in Orlando Amid Blazers' Playoff Push

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2020

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 10: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers brings the ball down the court during the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center on March 10, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. The Portland Trail Blazers topped the Phoenix Suns, 121-105. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are tied for ninth place in the Western Conference heading into the restarted season, but Damian Lillard wants to make his time in Orlando worth it. 

The five-time All-Star discussed the season restart Tuesday with Shams Charania of Stadium:

"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.

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"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.

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