After months of pushing for a trade to the Miami Heat, Damian Lillard was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal just before the opening of training camps. The deal worked out well for the three teams involved — the Bucks, Suns and Blazers — but certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of Heat fans and media who were extremely confident Lillard would eventually end up in Miami.
The way things played out suddenly makes regular season matchups for the Bucks against the Blazers and Heat into must-watch events.
Lillard is likely to be honored by the Blazers, after spending 11 seasons with the team and establishing a resume as one of the greatest players in franchise history. But we can't discount the potential for some hurt feelings for some Blazers fans, disappointed with the way he forced his way off the team.
The Heat probably have much more animosity towards the Blazers for how they handled things than they do for Lillard or the Bucks. But Jimmy Butler did call for a tampering investigation against the Bucks after the trade went down. Not to mention that the two teams will be battling for Eastern Conference supremacy and the Heat may have some extra motivation to show Lillard what he's missing out on.
When will Damian Lillard and the Bucks play the Heat and Trail Blazers?
The Bucks play the Heat in the first full week of the season but they won't travel to Miami for more than a month after Opening Night. Lillard's return to Portland doesn't come until deep in the season and after the calendar flips to 2024.
Monday, Oct. 30, 2023
Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023
Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023
@ Miami Heat
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024
@ Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024
As of right now, the Nov. 28 matchup against the Miami Heat is the only one of these games currently slotted for a national television broadcast — airing on TNT as part of the NBA In-Season Tournament. All the rest of the games will only be available on local broadcasts and through NBA League Pass. However, it's possible that the NBA could flex some of these games onto the national TV schedule, considering the new stakes.