It's Time to Enter Damian Lillard into the MVP Conversation

Damian Lillard welcomed back CJ McCollum with open arms, then proceeded to once again carry the Trail Blazers to another win by dropping 50 points (13/20 FG, 6/13 3P), 6 rebounds & 10 assists on Tuesday night. The Blazers defeated the Pelicans 125-124 and came back from being down by as many as 17 points midway through the 4th quarter, at which point it turned into Dame Time
How many players would you rather have in the clutch over Lillard? It's tough to think of many that have consistently hit more big shots over the last few years than Dame. His range is on par with Steph Curry. He's willing to find an open teammate throughout the game, which helps him setup his late game heroics. He's always willing to take the big shot in the big moments. It's time to throw Lillard's name into the MVP discussion - he's single-handedly carried the Blazers through key injuries to McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic and was the key driver in Tuesday night's 16-0 run in the 4th quarter to get the Blazers back in the game. 

At this point, who wants to go up against a fully healthy Blazers team with MVP-level Lillard in the playoffs? They're well coached by Terry Stotts, who's in his 9th season at the helm in Portland. They proved their team depth is solid by withstanding the losses of McCollum and Nurkic, as Gary Trent Jr. stepped up big time, and Carmelo Anthony rediscovering some of his Hall of Fame form. 

However, in Rip City it all starts and ends with Lillard. And with the game on the line, you know what time it is.

Photo Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports