MILWAUKEE — Damian Lillard had one of the worst games of his career on Sunday in the Milwaukee Bucks‘ 127-110 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, finishing with six points and six turnovers on 2-of-12 shooting. The good news is he’ll have to wait less than 24 hours to take the court again when the Bucks square off against the Miami Heat.
That is, of course, a loaded matchup for Lillard, who requested a trade to the Heat during the offseason, but was instead dealt to the Bucks in a blockbuster deal, ending his 11-year run with the Portland Trail Blazers. The veteran guard insisted, however, that despite his hectic summer and friendship with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it will be just another game.
“I’ve never played on their team,” Lillard said. “I mentioned that [it] was the destination for me when I asked to be traded last year, but I was traded here. I’m excited to be here, I’m happy to be here, I fit in great here. For me, personally, that was the end of it. I never thought about it again after that.
“So I’m not going into tomorrow like ‘this the team that I was supposed to be playing for’ or none of that. I know Jimmy, I know Bam, we’re cool, but I play for the Bucks. I’m not going into it like ‘that’s my former team’ or ‘we was tied in’ or nothing like that. It’s another game.”
Lillard also downplayed the contact he had with Heat players such as Adebayo during the negotiation process.
“On the outside people made more of it than what was taking place,” Lillard explained. “It’s not like I was calling him every day or nothing like that. I said what I needed to say to the team that I was on at that time, and I went on about my time. I did my training, I spent time with my kids, and that was it. I’m telling you the real when I say it’s not that deep. Bam was my boy before I asked for a trade. He still is, and that was the extent of it.”
The Bucks and Heat will tip-off at 8 p.m. ET on Monday on League Pass. Lillard will be looking to bounce back after setting a record for the biggest point differential between a first and second game with a new team in NBA history: 33 points. He had 39 points in an opening night win over the Philadelphia 76ers before scoring just six against the Hawks.
As for the Bucks, they’ll be looking for revenge after the Heat knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last season.