Damian Lillard brushes off significance of Monday’s matchup vs. Miami Heat: ‘It’s just another game’

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Miami Heat will face off against Damian Lillard and the Milwaukee Bucks. Lillard reportedly wanted to be dealt to Miami this past offseason but ended up getting traded to the Bucks in a three-team deal.

Lillard recently brushed off the upcoming game against the Heat.

“I’m not going into [Monday] like, ‘This is the team I was supposed to be playing for,’” Lillard said. “None of that. I know Jimmy [Butler], I know Bam [Adebayo]. We’re cool. But I play for the Bucks and I’m not going into it like that’s my former team or we were tied in or nothing like that. It’s just another game.”

The floor general has had a rocky start to his Bucks career.

He dropped 39 points and four assists against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in Milwaukee’s season opener on Oct. 26 but really struggled to score the ball against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 29. Lillard scored just six points and converted two of his 12 shot attempts from the field as the Bucks lost to star guard Trae Young and the Hawks to fall to 1-1 on the season.

Lillard also had an inconsistent preseason for the Bucks. He shot 30 percent or worse from the field in two of the three preseason games that he played in. However, he did play well against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 20, seeing as how he finished with 19 points in 27 minutes of playing time and knocked down six of his 14 shots from the field.

Before joining Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, Lillard played his first 11 seasons in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, who selected him with the No. 6 overall pick back in the 2012 NBA Draft. He averaged 32.2 points per while shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the 3-point line in 58 appearances with the Trail Blazers during the 2022-23 regular season.

Lillard may have brushed off some of the storylines behind Monday’s game, but he should have plenty of motivation to play well against the Heat. Heat fans shouldn’t be surprised if Lillard has a big scoring game, particularly if Josh Richardson — one of Miami’s best perimeter defenders — sits out for Miami.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.