OAKLAND, Calif. -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard told ESPN that his "lighthearted" response predicting an upset of the Golden State Warriors in six games in the first round of the playoffs has spiraled out of control.
"I was asked in six or seven [games], and I said six. It was a lighthearted exchange," Lillard told ESPN on Thursday. "But with that said, I do believe we can win the series."
Lillard's "in six" reply caused a social media stir.
The two-time All-Star was interviewed Tuesday by CSN Northwest, the local television partner of the Trail Blazers. He was asked whether the eighth-seeded Blazers could beat the best team in the NBA in six games or seven, and he playfully responded with six.
The Blazers have the second-best record (17-6) in the NBA since March 1. Lillard's MVP-level play, C.J. McCollum's continued improvement and the midseason acquisition of big man Jusuf Nurkic have redirected the team's path.
This is why Lillard is a firm believer in his guys being able to compete with anyone -- even the Warriors in the opening round.
"I have a lot of respect for the Warriors," Lillard told ESPN. "...We're playing our best basketball right now and that has given us a lot of confidence."
Game 1 will be Sunday at Oracle Arena.
Portland finished the season at 41-41, while Golden State rolled to a 67-15 mark. Five No. 1 seeds have been upset in the first round in NBA playoff history. The Warriors only have to look to themselves to know they need to be careful. In 2007, a 42-40 Warriors team, coached by former Dallas coach Don Nelson, upset the top-seeded Mavericks, who had a 67-15 mark.
If the Blazers beat the Warriors in any games this series, it will be a first for the season. Portland went 0-4 against Golden State, losing by an average of 19.5 points.
The teams haven't met since the end of January, which was before the Nurkic trade.