NBA: Portland Trail Blazer's Damian Lillard named MVP of restart, Phoenix Suns' Monty Williams best coach
Damian Lillard said his explosive performance in the bubble was a continuation of his form early in a season that was then disrupted by injury and the coronavirus pandemic.
Miami: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who averaged a league-leading 37.6 points in eight seeding games, has been named the top player of the NBA's restart in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
Lillard recorded 30 points and 16 assists against Boston on 2 August, matching his career high for assists and logging his first of three seeding games with at least 30 points and 10 assists.
On 6 August against Denver, he finished with 45 points - becoming the first player in NBA history with at least 45 points, 10 assists and 10 three-pointers in a game as he tied his own franchise record for three-pointers in a game.
Lillard’s 61-point outing against the Mavericks on 11 August tied his own club record for points in a game and marked his third game of 60-plus points this season, a one-campaign feat only accomplished by Lillard and Wilt Chamberlain.
In a must-win contest at Brooklyn on 13 August, Lillard finished with 42 points.
As he prepared to lead the Blazers against the Memphis Grizzles on Saturday in a play-in game for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, Lillard said his explosive performance in the bubble was a continuation of his form early in a season that was then disrupted by injury and the coronavirus pandemic.
"I feel like I was in this type of rhythm before I got hurt before the All-Star break (in February)," Lillard said. "I felt good, I was shooting the ball well I was moving well.
"And then coming off the injury after the break it just took some time, and then the season got suspended.
"So just having that time to recover and get healthy, I guess kind of clear my mind of everything and spend time with my family and have time away from the game, I just came into the bubble ready to go."
Phoenix's Monty Williams, who led the Suns to a perfect 8-0 record in the bubble, was chosen as the top coach of the seeding-game schedule, even though his young team didn't make the playoffs.
Joining Lillard on the first team for games played at Disney World from 30 July - 14 August were Phoenix's Devin Booker, Indiana's T.J. Warren, Dallas' Luka Doncic and Houston's James Harden.
Booker was second in the top-player race.
Ben Simmons was devastated by the 76ers' loss to the Hawks in the 2021 NBA playoffs and never reported to training camp the following season.
Durant pointed to how poorly the Nets played while he was sidelined by a knee injury in January and February as one of the reasons for his frustration
The punishment meted out to Ime Udoka comes with the Celtics' pre-season training camp due to open next week.