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Did Damian Lillard curse the Bucks by touching the NBA Cup before semifinal loss to the Pacers?

Damian Lillard wants to win -- badly. That much we know. It's the main reason he requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers over the summer and why he was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks shortly before the season began.

But maybe it's possible that Lillard wants to win too much. At least, the superstitious sports fans among us will be saying as much following the Bucks' 128-119 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. Some will attribute Milwaukee's exit at the semifinal stage of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament to Lillard, who was seen touching the NBA Cup on Wednesday as the teams prepared for their game in Las Vegas.

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Lillard was warned...

A reporter at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday spotted Lillard posing with and touching the NBA Cup before it was officially handed out -- which many sports fans consider a bad omen. This member of the media apparently felt the same way.

Touching the trophy (or not) is regarded with particular suspicion in the hockey world. In the NHL, trophies are awarded for the champions of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference before both teams go on to play for the Stanley Cup. Many players don't want to touch the conference championship trophies, viewing it as bad luck -- they'd rather wait to lift the Stanley Cup, the trophy that means the most.

The superstition is not quite as strong in basketball, but there's a chance it takes hold in the coming years thanks to the introduction of the In-Season Tournament -- and Lillard's "gaffe" ahead of Milwaukee's loss on Thursday night.

Lillard gives credit to Haliburton and the Pacers

It's worth noting that Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton also posed with and touched the NBA Cup during Wednesday's media availability, but bad luck did not befall his team. Haliburton was brilliant on Thursday, finishing with 27 points and 15 assists -- even mimicking Lillard's "Dame Time" celebration on a clutch late three-pointer.

After the loss, Lillard -- who finished with 24 points and seven assists -- discussed how he felt about Haliburton claiming a slice of "Dame Time" for himself.

"I learned as a kid, when you dish it out, you've got to be willing to take it," Lillard said. "For as many times as I've done it to people, I can't be upset when somebody else does it. I think that's also a sign of respect and acknowledgment for knowing my history and knowing what I do."

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