Damian Lillard Breaks NBA Record for 3 Pointers in a Playoff Game – Has He Carried Portland?

By Anthony Haage in Sports
| June 9, 2021 9:39 am PDT

In Game 5 of the playoff series between the #3 seed Denver Nuggets and #6 seed Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard put on an absolute show.

In an action-packed game, Lillard hit not one, but two clutch threes to force both overtimes.

Those two shots alone were amazing, but he ended up adding 10 more threes bringing his total to 12, and broke Klay Thompson’s record (11) of threes made in a playoff game.

Game 5 Breakdown

The Blazers were down bad after the first quarter. The Nuggets got up to a 13-point lead at a score of 38-25. This may have woken up the Blazers as they bounced right back with 37 points in the second quarter and cut the Nuggets’ lead to 3 at halftime.

By this time, Lillard had only 3 threes on 5 attempts, out of his 18 total points. Dame played the whole third quarter and added 2 more threes, but Nikola Jokic battled back with 12 of his own points in the quarter.

Entering the 4th quarter, the Blazers had a 2-point lead (94-92). They were on an incredible pace to break the Over/Under that was set at 226.5 before the game.

The fourth quarter was a show as Lillard added 11 points and 3 assists, with 3 more threes on 3 attempts.

The highlight of the game happened at the end of regulation. Dame called for an isolation on Michael Porter Jr. as the clock wound down. He hit hit a step-back three over the younger player and forced the first overtime.

Dame had 38 points with 8 total threes before overtime began. This wasn’t the end of Lillard’s clutchness. In the first overtime, Lillard added 3 more threes with 12 points.

The Nuggets built another 3-point lead as the overtime period was coming to an end, but never count out Damian Lillard. He hit yet another clutch 3 and forced another overtime.

It seemed inevitable that Lillard was going to will the Blazers by himself to a win, but sadly that wasn’t the case. The Blazers ended up losing in the second overtime and Lillard’s historic game came to an end.

Lillard ended up adding the record-breaking three-pointer in the final overtime period and brought his total points up to a whopping 55. But, it wasn’t enough.

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets outlasted Lillard and the Blazers and took a 3-2 series lead as they headed to Portland for Game 6.

Lillard’s 55 points were also tied for seventh-most in NBA playoff history. He also added 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, and an amazingly low 1 turnover.

Besides the points and threes, the turnover total was incredible considering how often he had the ball in his hands. The next highest scorer was unlikely as Robert Covington added 18 points.

Normally CJ McCollum is the next highest scorer on the Blazers, but he added 17 on a terrible night of shooting. McCollum missed 15 of his 22 shots (.318 from the field) and Carmelo Anthony also had a poor shooting night.

Anthony missed 8 of his 11 shots (.273 from the field) with his 8 points in 30 minutes. So, Lillard was single-handedly carrying the Blazers in his 51 total minutes played. The Nuggets had a more balanced attack with Jokic having a near triple-double of 38/11/9 in 46 minutes.

Monte Morris had an incredible game off the bench with 28 points, and Michael Porter also added 26 points.

A New Era of Basketball

Lillard’s incredible performance of three-point shooting is only the beginning in today’s league.

Of the players who have made 9 or more threes in a playoff game, 10 out of the 15 players did it within the past 5 years.

Damian Lillard is a familiar face on that list, as he also has 3rd and 4th with 10 threes in 2019, and 9 threes earlier in this series against the Nuggets.

  • According to ShotTracker, the NBA attempted a microscopic 2.8 three per game in 1979-80.
  • The team that attempted the lowest number of threes per game this year was the San Antonio Spurs. They still attempted 28.3 threes per game.
  • The Utah Jazz attempted the most threes per game with a whopping 42.9. The Trail Blazers were in second with 40.7 threes per game, with Lillard leading the way.
  • In 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers hit an NBA record 25 threes in a playoff game.

In the Blazers/Nuggets game 5 this year, both teams came close to that record with 22 by the Blazers and 21 by the Nuggets. Given it was a double-overtime game, it still is significant, and more and more teams will live and die by the three.

Of the 30 teams who have hit Lillard may not be the only person to hit 12 threes in a game, as more and more players are shooting more threes. He may even surpass himself as he has before.

Lillard will go down in the history books as one of the greatest three-point shooters of the history of the NBA, especially in the playoffs.

Lillard’s Performance This Season

In Lillard’s 67 games played, he finished the season as follows.

  • 3rd for scoring (28.8 points per game)
  • 2nd in threes per game (4.1)
  • 9th in assists (7.5 per game)
  • 8th in minutes per game (35.8)

He does however have strong competition when it comes to the MVP race. His main competitors for MVP include Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and Joel Embiid.

It should be taken into consideration how the Blazers suffered a lot of injuries this season, with losses starters CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Those two players only combined for 84 games played this season.

The losses of two solid starters could be devastating to any team, especially in the tough Western Conference. But Damian Lillard put the team on his back, and the Blazers finished as the 6th seed heading into the playoffs.

Possible Portland Exit?

The 6-time NBA All-Star posted an eye-opening Instagram picture with a quote from Nipsey Hussle.

“How long should I stay dedicated? How long till opportunity meets preparation.”

This post came after their Game 6 loss to Denver and elimination from the playoffs. The post about opportunity and questioning dedication comes at a bad time for the Blazers, as their superstar appears to be upset.

Lillard recently a 4-year max extension worth over $176 million with the Blazers, keeping them under contract until the 2025 season.

The NBA has had more and more super teams coming about and if Lillard were to demand a trade, he would be the most sought-after player for any team wanting to make a run at the Finals.

Some teams who could use a Point Guard to make themselves a super team would be the Clippers, Bulls, 76ers (Simmons could still fit in the lineup elsewhere), and the Jazz (Mike Conley becomes FA after this season).

Lillard has the star power to demand action from the Blazers front office and things have the potential to get ugly this offseason.

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