Damian Lillard had a monster night in Game 1 against Houston, especially considering it was his first career playoff game. But Portland head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t at all surprised by how the All-Star showed up in the 122-120 overtime win.
“The thing about Damian is that anytime a question comes up, whether going back to summer league, going to exhibition season, whether he’s going to hit a rookie wall or not, he answers the bell every time,” Stotts told The Jim Rome Show. “He’s got a drive inside him and a will to play well. He wants to be great and he wants to win.”
Stotts also talked about their successful Hack-a-Howard plan they employed in Game 1 and compared the strategy to baseball.
“The NBA played over 1,200 games this year and you can count how many times it was used in over 1,200 games. To say it’s a bad thing, for a thing that happened so infrequently, I think it’s much to do about nothing,” said Stotts. “It’s much like an intentional walk in baseball. You’re preventing a great hitter from hitting the ball and so we’re preventing a great player not to get close shots at the basket. But the payoff in baseball you’re putting a runner on base and in basketball, you’re putting a guy at the free throw line and then it’s up to however it pans out from there.”
For people who believe it’s boring, Stotts says the strategy brings more drama and interest to the game.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for the game because the drama in the arena when Dwight Howard hit those two free throws, the place erupted, said Stotts. “They were cheering. There was a lot of energy in the building and the drama of whether to use it or not, and if you use it will he make or miss the free throws.”
Stotts also talked about last night’s playoff games with his team as teaching tools on what his players should expect tomorrow night in Game 2.
“It was two good examples of the way Houston is going to play tomorrow night,” said Stotts. “You look at how the (Los Angeles) Clippers responded after losing Game 1 and you look at how Memphis responded after losing Game 1. So those are great examples of how the previous game really sets the tone for the next game, particularly for the team that lost.”