2019 NBA Playoffs: Logo Lillard is back

NBA Playoff results: May 10, 2019

2. Toronto Raptors (101) – 3. Philadelphia 76ers (112)

2. Denver Nuggets (108) – Portland Trail Blazers (119)

What happened in the Playoffs today:

1. Lillard snaps out of his funk

Ever since his epic six game stretch to start the Playoffs, Damian Lillard has somewhat “slowed down”. In the first six games of the Playoffs, Lillard averaged 34 points on 47% shooting. Since then, he’s put up “only” 23 points per game on 38.7% shooting.

Most players would kill to be able to average 23 points in a four-game stretch. But that’s not enough for Lillard. That’s not enough for the Blazers. His dominance in the First Round was a big reason for the Blazers advancing to the Second Round.

With Lillard misfiring, the Nuggets were able to open up a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6. Another win and Denver would advance to the Conference Finals. The Blazers needed Lillard to quickly get back to being one of the best players in the Playoffs if they hoped to extend the series to a Game 7. Thankfully, he did.

He snapped out of his shooting funk, putting up 32 points on 47% shooting. Lillard nailed six three-pointers in the game to fuel his scoring splurge. He was crucial in the third period where he kept the Blazers offense alive with 17 points during that stretch.

Lillard announced his return with a long three-pointer early in the third period. He continued to slice up Denver’s defense with quick drives to the hoop, even splitting two defenders on drives to the hoop several times. Near the end of the period, Logo Lillard returned in full form as he drilled two long triples to put the Blazers up by five.

This time around, Lillard didn’t have to do the heavy lifting alone. CJ McCollum also came up big for Portland with 30 points. McCollum was shut down on the Game 5 loss, limited to just 12 points on 31% shooting. McCollum came alive at the right time, putting on a show in the final period of Game 6.

He helped the Blazers build a double-digit lead in the final period and drilled the dagger three-pointer to take the fight away from the Nuggets.

Portland also found another hero in Rodney Hood. Ever since his spectacular performance in the 4OT Game 3 win, Hood has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Blazers. He’s averaged 13 points on 70% shooting in nearly 25 minutes off the bench in the past three games. In Game 6, Hood had a breakout game, scoring a career-high 25 points on 66% shooting.

Hood scored five straight points to open the fourth quarter. That blast gave Portland a nine-point lead and allowed McCollum and Lillard to extend the advantage to a safer margin.

The production of Lillard, McCollum and Hood offset a balanced scoring effort from the Nuggets where five players scored in double-figures including 29 from Nikola Jokic and 24 from Jamal Murray. Without one of the three, the Blazers season would be done. Instead, they’re packing their bags, on the way to Denver for a do-or-die Game 7.

2. Sixers came to play

The Sixers starters have been under scrutiny in their back-to-back losses to the Raptors. Everyone had their eyes on the young duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as they two played below par in Games 4 and 5.

Embiid didn’t look healthy in those two games. Between a knee injury and a stomach illness, he just didn’t have his usual energy on both ends of the floor. Embiid was limited to just 24 points and three blocks in those two games.

Simmons didn’t have the same injury excuse that Embiid had. He just looked passive and ineffective especially when the Raptors slowed the game down. a 15-8-8 kind of guy, Simmons just had a total of 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in that two-game stretch.

With their season on the line, the two came to play.

Embiid didn’t put up monster numbers but his active presence on both ends of the floor played a huge role in how the Sixers got the win. Embiid had 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 6. Simmons came out more aggressive and set the tone for the Sixers. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Simmons pushed the pace which played more to the Sixers’ advantage.

Jimmy Butler continued to carry the Sixers offense. He finished with 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Tobias Harris had 16 points and nine rebounds while JJ Redick added 11 points.

The Sixers manage to extend the series to one final game. If Embiid, Simmons and Butler can come up big again, Game 7 will be a war.

Photo from Getty Images