Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shot his 2019 game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder with such confidence, a casual basketball fan would assume he takes that shot with consistency. Indeed, Lillard never ceases to amaze with his ability to take and make shots from well beyond the three-point line. However, even he was astonished when retracing his famous shot that sent OKC home in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Damian Lillard’s game-winner against the Thunder is one of the best moments in NBA history
Damian Lillard’s game-winner against the Thunder in the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs was nothing short of remarkable.
Now, quickly, we should establish some context. For starters, the Blazers led the series 3-1 and had the chance to close things out at home. Portland dominated the series, but Lillard and Thunder star Russell Westbrook had been jawing back and forth, with The Brodie consistently insinuating he got the best of Lillard.
To this point in Game 5, Lillard already had 47 points. He was 9-for-17 from beyond the arc. So Dame had unmitigated confidence when the Blazers collected a rebound off a Westbrook miss with the score tied at 115-apiece and less than 20 seconds remaining.
Lillard had the ball just across the timeline and was guarded by Thunder swingman Paul George, widely known as one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball. Rather than try to get something going toward the basket, Lillard stepped back and fired a 37-foot jumper. The ball found the bottom of the cylinder, ending the series and sending the Blazers to the conference semifinals.
The shot is only part of the moment, however. Lillard waved goodbye to the Thunder bench as the ball swished through the net. He was mobbed by his teammates and looked into the camera in a moment that became a meme for all eternity.
Dame’s game-winner also gave him two series-clinching buzzer-beaters. That meant he joined Michael Jordan as the only other player in NBA history with multiple series-ending buzzer-beaters.
Looking back, Lillard is stunned he had the audacity to shoot the ball from that distance.
Lillard expressed surprise at the distance of his game-winner in a recent promotion with Biofreeze
Lillard might have shot the ball with confidence at the moment, but he is astonished at his own range when retracing the shot.
The Blazers star rehashed the Thunder game-winner in a recent promotional video for Biofreeze. He explained to the camera that he knew he was taking the last shot and had to use a high trajectory to get it off properly.
However, when Lillard stepped up the spot, he looked incredulous. Dame asked whether the distance was really accurate. When told he was indeed shooting from the correct spot, Lillard hilariously expressed his own astonishment.
Maybe this was one of those instances where adrenaline took over for Lillard.
Dame understood he had an opportunity to win the game for the Blazers. He was going on 50 points and already established limitless range throughout the series. It didn’t matter where Lillard shot the ball from. The ball had a chance of finding the bottom of the cup.
At least, that’s how it likely felt at the time. Looking back, Lillard is amazed he fired his game-winner from such a distance.
Lillard is one of the best long-range snipers in the NBA
Damian Lillard might be as good at hoisting 35-foot jumpers as anyone else on the planet, save for maybe Stephen Curry.
Lillard went 3-for-7 in the 35- to 39-foot range this past season. He was far more efficient during the 2019-20 campaign, making 8-of-12 from that range. This is all to say, Lillard is a danger to make jumpers from anywhere on the floor.
The Blazers star is never afraid to pull from deep if he sees even a glimmer of daylight. Lillard has always had that brah confidence about him. Yet, even he had to admit his own amazement when revisiting the Thunder game-winner.