It appears as though the Portland Trail Blazers will be without their start point guard for a little while longer. After straining his right groin in the Blazers’ final game before the All-Star break, Damian Lillard was expected to miss the next three or four games as he recovered. Three games have passed — with the Blazers going 1-2 during that time — and Lillard is still not healthy enough to return. In fact, he might be out another handful of games.
While Portland prepares for its upcoming three-game road trip, The Athletic’s Jason Quick reports that Lillard will travel with the team, but he’s likely still out a couple more games. Portland will play Indiana, Atlanta and Orlando over the next three games, and while two of those games are winnable even without Lillard, any absence from him at this point in the season threatens to cripple its chances at making the playoffs. The one positive, though, is that the Blazers are just three games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and with Memphis dealing with significant injuries of its own, that opens the door a little bit more for Portland.
Lillard has been arguably the NBA‘s best player in the past month and a half or so. Through his last 21 games, he is averaging 34 points per game and shooting over 45 percent from behind the 3-point line. He has carried a Blazers team that has been utterly decimated by injuries, and without him, their playoff prospects are fairly grim.
But rushing Lillard back from injury only to see him aggravate the groin would doom those chances entirely. For the time being, the Blazers will have to hope that CJ McCollum can pick up Lillard’s role as leading scorer and galvanizing force offensively if they hope to remain in the hunt.