The Portland Trail Blazers struggled with injuries and inconsistent play for large portions of the 2019-20 season. That all changed in the NBA Bubble, when the league re-started following a five-month COVID-related suspension of play.
Within the confines of the NBA Bubble, the Blazers faced a scenario where, if they didn’t win, they’d lose their playoff slot. That’s when the team’s superstar, Damian Lillard, went absolutely nuts.
The 30-year-old closed out the seeding games by scoring 51, 61 and 42 points in the Blazers’ last three outings – each of which ended in victory. When it was all said and done, not only did Portland qualify for the playoffs, but Lillard was also named Player of the Seeding Games after averaging 37.6 points per game.
So what led to Lillard’s insane NBA Bubble streak? According to his teammate, C.J. McCollum, it was the specific “magic elixir” pinot noir he would down during his nightly routine.
As soon as the Lakers won their championship, Gregg Popovich sent Danny Green this message. https://t.co/mnqQsFfXPg
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 25, 2020
“No one was a bigger fan than Damian Lillard,” reported Taylor Rooks in a column for GQ.
“McCollum’s backcourt running mate said Heritage 91 was a magic elixir, the good-luck charm behind his historic bubble hot streak. Every time Lillard drank some, he’d go out and drop 50 on the other team, so he made it a point to incorporate McCollum Heritage 91 into his nightly routine.
“According to CJ, Dame was like, “‘Don’t bring me nothing besides that Heritage—I only want to drink the Heritage!’ So I was bringing him it, and we was drinking it for, like, a streak.’”
Yikes LeBron. https://t.co/EXINAEaMp0
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 24, 2020
The Blazers and Phoenix Suns were two of the hottest teams in the NBA Bubble last year, and it will be interesting to see if both can carry that momentum over to the regular season in 2020-21.
Portland really tightened up its squad this offseason by adding three-and-D specialist Robert Covington in a trade that sent Trevor Ariza and two first-round picks to the Houston Rockets.
“Robert is an elite defender and consummate professional that will make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor,” Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said in a statement.
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 23, 2020
“His versatility enables him to play multiple positions and his character and professionalism will allow him to transition seamlessly into our culture.”
Last year Covington averaged 12.4 points on 42.2 percent shooting from the field, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.64 steals and 1.33 blocks in 30.5 minutes of action per outing.
On paper, the Blazers look very good heading into next year. Will that translate into more playoff success?
Time will tell.