Anthony Davis Praises Damian Lillard Ahead of Lakers vs. Blazers: 'He's Balling'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard handles the ball while Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

It's hard to argue with Anthony Davis' description of Damian Lillard heading into the first round of the NBA playoffs.  

"He's balling," the Los Angeles Lakers big man said of the Portland Trail Blazers guard prior to the series between their two teams:

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina

Anthony Davis on Damian Lillard: “He’s balling.” https://t.co/1MwqsM51QL

Lillard largely put Portland on his back during the NBA's seeding games at Walt Disney World Resort, leading the team to the No. 8 seed and helping it defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in matchup. As a result, the Trail Blazers will face Davis, LeBron James and the top-seeded Lakers in the opening round.

Lillard has already been one of the best perimeter playmakers in the league as a five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, but he elevated his game further in the bubble.

The result was a unanimously voted bubble MVP after he averaged 37.6 points and 9.6 assists while shooting 43.6 percent from deep during the eight seeding games. Portland went 6-2 in those contests, playing its way up the Western Conference standings prior to Saturday's win over Memphis.

Lillard scored more than 40 points in four of the seeding games, including a 51-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers and a 61-point outburst against the Dallas Mavericks

He also notched a double-double of 31 points and 10 assists in the win over the Grizzlies.

The question now is whether he can replicate those performances against the mighty Lakers and stand in the way of perhaps a fourth career ring for James and a first championship for Davis. Los Angeles wasn't exactly lights-out on defense during the seeding games and was a middling 12th in defensive rating, per NBA.com.

It also doesn't have Avery Bradley or Rajon Rondo to help slow Lillard on the outside, which might put James in a position where he needs to defend the point guard in crunch time.

The King going against Dame Time with games on the line would make for thrilling theater, especially in a series that doesn't feel like a typical battle between the Nos. 1 and 8 seeds.