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Lillard will do all he can to beat Clippers

Blazers talk matchups on eve of game 1 of playoffs

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: April 16, 2016, 4:05pm

TUALATIN, Ore. — Only a few hours before heading down south for the next five days, Damian Lillard issued a guarantee.
When asked about how he anticipates the Clippers will guard him when the series begins Sunday, Lillard described all the types of coverages that would be thrown at him.
In the playoffs scheme matters, he said, but only so much.
Lillard will come out firing in the house that Kobe closed out a few nights ago.
“We know for sure that we have four games left, we know that for sure,” Lillard said. “I just know one thing, and I’m going to come out and you’re going to see me aggressive. Whatever they do I’m not shying away. If I go out and shoot 20 percent, it is what it is. But I’m coming out there to try to win.”
But the Clippers will also be trying furiously to win. In that effort, there will be a lot of complaints toward the officials.
The Clippers, from Chris Paul to Blake Griffin and even Doc Rivers, are notorious for the ways that they get after the officials, debating even the smallest violation or non-call.
The Blazers, like most good teams, do their share of pleading and prodding of the officials, but nobody does it better, or worse, than the Clippers.
Lillard has picked up some tips from Paul, perhaps the game’s best manipulator of officials, and made more of an effort to talk to officials throughout games, especially during breaks.
How will the Blazers navigate what will certainly be a frustrating series at times, with the complaints to officials from the Clippers, without losing focus on just playing the game?
“You already know going in that it’s going to be something that they look to,” Al-Farouq Aminu said of the Clippers complaints towards officials. “So you just can identify it and not get caught up in the moment. Be mindful of the fact that they will do some of those things, identify it, keep it moving and do what you have to do.”
Aminu will have to “keep it moving” quite a bit throughout the series, guarding Griffin in a match-up that will be a physical test of strength.
But so will Moe Harkless, Noah Vonleh or even Ed ­Davis.
Several players will have their chance to guard ­Griffin other than Aminu.
“If we play Mason (Plumlee) and Ed together they’ll be on him,” coach Terry Stotts said. “So, it’s a long series and you’ll see different people guard different things. They will have different lineups out there, so will we. I think it’s important that with Moe and (Aminu’s) versatility they can be guarding perimeter players and inside players.”
Stotts also said that if he feels Chris Kaman will give them a chance to win a game, he will throw the 13-year veteran into the fire.
Gerald Henderson, one of few Blazers in this team that’s been in the league longer than five seasons, doesn’t expect his role will change.
“I think I’ve tried to do a good job all year of staying on top of guys,” Henderson said. “Just little small things, you don’t need to go out there and do anything different.”

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer