Damian Lillard Relieved to Be Back in NBA Playoffs and Not at Coachella

Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) warms up before Game 1 of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.
Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) warms up before Game 1 of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers. / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs or Coachella?

For Milwaukee Bucks star guard Damian Lillard, the answer is simple. Lillard, who set a Bucks playoff record with 35 first-half points to help lead Milwaukee to a 109-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the first-round series on Sunday, is back in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2020-21 season.

And Lillard, 33, is relieved that postseason basketball is on his summer to-do list rather than attending Coachella, the annual music and arts festival held in Indio, Calif.

Speaking to reporters after the Bucks' win, Lillard admitted that his two-year hiatus from postseason action "sucked."

"The last two years not being in the playoffs, it sucked," Lillard said. "Early vacations. Last year, I went to Coachella. I ain't never been able to go to Coachella."

Lillard then spoke about how it feels to be competing for an NBA championship again.

"Just having that long summer, I was over that," Lillard said. "Being able to be in a playoff series on a championship team, championship organization, knowing that we got an opportunity for it, that was the thing I was looking forward to most."

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is usually held in mid-April. Lillard, who was dealt to Milwaukee in October, was free in mid-April in each of the last two seasons after the Portland Trail Blazers missed the postseason.

While he surely had a good time at Coachella last year, competing for the elusive NBA title takes the cake every time.

Lillard and the Bucks will be back in action for Game 2 on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.


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Tim Capurso

TIM CAPURSO

Tim is a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Before coming aboard the SI team, he wrote for RotoBaller and ClutchPoints, where he was the Lead Editor for MLB, College Football and NFL coverage. A lifelong Yankees and Giants fan, Tim grew up in Mahopac, NY, just outside of NYC. It was no surprise when 10-year-old Tim announced he wanted to be a sportswriter one day, considering his favorite book at the time was The Baseball Encyclopedia. He now lives with his girlfriend, Lindsay, a die-hard Eagles and Phillies fan, just outside of Philadelphia, PA, where Tim can confirm he has been heckled more than a few times. When he's not writing, Tim enjoys reading, exercising and spending time with his family. This includes their three-legged cat Willow, who, unfortunately, is also an Eagles fan.