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Skip Bayless Gets Candid About the Specific Condition Needed For Damian Lillard to Win Games

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Skip Bayless Gets Candid About the Specific Condition Needed For Damian Lillard to Win Games

In Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, the Milwaukee Bucks found themselves in the rare scenario where they were the underdogs at home, despite being the higher seed. But, according to Fox Sports analyst Skip Bayless, those were the perfect conditions for Bucks’ superstar guard Damian Lillard to thrive. On a recent episode of Undisputed, Bayless gave his two cents on Lillard’s ‘perfect place’ for the game.

The veteran put the Bucks on his back in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence and led them to a 104-94 win. Lillard scored 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, grabbed six rebounds, and dished three assists to help Milwaukee take a 1-0 lead in the series. Explaining why the superstar guard dropped an exceptional performance, Bayless said,

“[Damian Lillard] is always at his best when he’s the hopeless underdog. He’s always at his best when he’s that big fish in an empty pond like he was in Portland. He’s always at his best when expectations are lower, at their least.”

The 72-year-old then went on to claim that game 1 of the first round was a perfect situation for the former Trailblazers star,

“[In Game 1], all the expectations were on Indiana to win that game as the betting favorite without Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. He was in the perfect place at the perfect time.”

Bayless added that without Antetokounmpo, Lillard could push the pace on offense and shoot at will. The analyst is spot on about the veteran guard playing with more freedom without his superstar co-star. In the nine games that he has played as a Buck without Antetokounmpo on the court, Lillard has averaged 30.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. Those numbers drop to 23.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.4 rebounds when he has to share the offensive load with the superstar forward.

Antetokounmpo’s absence in Game 1 may have unlocked the winning formula for the Bucks: let Lillard be the primary option on offense and play around him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has no issue letting Damian Lillard be the face of the Bucks

In Game 1 against the Pacers, Damian Lillard reminded the world what he’s capable of with his masterclass in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence. While the veteran guard thrived without his two-time MVP award-winning co-star, he’s scheduled to return from his calf injury before the series ends, which could see Lillard go back to his diminished role on offense.

Skip Bayless Gets Candid About the Specific Condition Needed For Damian Lillard to Win Games
Credits: USA Today Sports

However, if head coach Doc Rivers convinces Antetokounmpo to focus on the defensive end and let Lillard be the Bucks’ lynchpin on offense, Milwaukee could become the force they were expected to turn into when they acquired the superstar guard from the Portland Trail Blazers. Not many superstars would accept giving up their role as the primary option on their team’s offense but Antetokounmpo is among the handful who would if it helped the team.

He even admitted in an interview with Bleacher Report back in October that the Bucks are Lillard’s team and they’ll go as far as he could lead them.

The Bucks let Lillard do as he pleased on offense against the Pacers in Game 1 and he led them to a surprise win. It remains to be seen if they offer him the same freedom when Antetokounmpo returns to the lineup.

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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