The Portland Trail Blazers clinched the 8th playoff spot in a 122-126 win against the Memphis Grizzlies last night, which leads them in a direct matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers starting on Tuesday. The Blazers had to fight their way against a young and talented Grizzlies squad, but with team effort and players stepping up in big moments, they were able to hold off the Grizzlies and secure a win.
We’ll also have the opportunity to see Carmelo Anthony back in the playoffs after everyone initially thought his career was over. The Blazers picked him up in the free agency, and so far, it proved to be a smart decision, with Anthony providing some quality minutes and instant scoring for the team.
After his 17 seasons in the NBA, Carmelo played with and against many great players, but after last night, he is convinced nobody could ever match Damian Lillard. If it weren’t for Lillard’s efforts, especially over the previous 8 games, the Blazers would have a slim chance of making it into the playoffs. Even though the Grizzlies were able to somewhat contain him last night, he still ended the game with 31 points and 9 assists.
“Dame’s at the top for me. I’ve never played with someone who lifted his team on the court with his play and as a leader. He genuinely cares for his teammates. What he’s been able to do is amazing. He’s the top guy I’ve played with.”Carmelo Anthony, via Yahoo Sports
Carmelo also had the opportunity to play with another great point guard in Allen Iverson during his time with the Denver Nuggets. Still, he said the comparisons between the two can’t be made. Iverson was at that time at the end of his prime while Lillard is still in the best years of his career.
“AI was on the tail end [of his career] at that point [in Denver]. I’ve played with some great players, but the way Dame elevates his game and others, he’s at the top.”Carmelo Anthony, via Yahoo Sports
Even though Anthony has a lot of respect for his teammates, he is also playing great basketball in the bubble averaging 16.5 points per game. Anthony seems to fit in well within the Blazers system, and it will be exciting to see him perform on the biggest stage in a series against the Lakers and his friend LeBron James who is going after his 4th NBA championship.