The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the NBA's biggest success stories this season with their surprisingly competitive team despite losing LaMarcus Aldridge in the offseason.
Damian Lillard credits how closely the players have worked together even before the season started.
“It’s a great feeling and it’s rewarding,” Lillard said of the Blazers’ surprising season. “We put so much time in together. Once our roster came together, we started spending time together right away. We went to San Diego together and worked out for a week. We came to Portland a month and a half early, played pickup. We worked out together, hung out together, and formed a bond with each other.”
The Blazers have been on a surge since a 29-point victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 26th. The Blazers have won 26 of their last 42 games.
“When the season started, we knew there would be growing pains on the floor, and it would come down to how we responded to that,” said Lillard. “All the things we went through to start the season, it made us better, and now we’re in position to be a playoff team.”
Lillard is the unquestioned leader but it's a group effort.
“It’s not me just doing everything,” Lillard said. “I’m not carrying the team and having to do it all by myself. It’s the group. I came into camp and in my mind I’m saying we’re going to be better than people think, having a lot of pride. We’ve been able to do what we’ve done because everybody felt that way. Everybody came in and said, ‘I’m better than what they say I am. I can bring more to this team than they say I can bring.’ And they took it personal.”