After suffering a groin injury just before the All-Star break, the Portland Trail Blazers expect that Damian Lillard will miss their next three to five games, according to The Oregonian.
Lillard suffered a groin strain late in their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies right before the All-Star break, and withdrew from both the All-Star Game and the 3-point contest.
Though he still participated in the weekend’s festivities in Chicago — rapping as Dame D.O.L.L.A. at the United Center — Lillard spent most of the break recovering. He can tell it’s improved since then, but he’s not ready to return to the floor just yet.
“I’ve been doing rehab since Thursday of last week,” Lillard said, via The Oregonian. “It has gotten a lot better, but I think it’s just one of those things where you start feeling better right away, but I think that last 15, 10 percent is what takes the time, that’s what takes so long. Right now, I’m just continuing rehab.”
Lillard will not play Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Blazers first back from the break. At best, he could be back on Feb. 27 for their matchup against the Indiana Pacers.
The 29-year-old is in the middle of a career season. He’s averaged 29.5 points and 7.9 assists so far this year, both career highs, and is averaging four 3-pointers per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc. Lillard has exploded in the past month, too, averaging 38.4 points and 9.4 assists per game.
Lillard’s absence could be tough one for the Trail Blazers to overcome. Portland is currently four games out of eighth place in the Western Conference standings and needs to make a push to secure its postseason spot. Undoubtedly, that push would be easier to make with Lillard on the floor.
Regardless, Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts isn’t too concerned.
“We’ll find a way," Stotts said, via The Oregonian. "Not having Dame is going to impact the team, that’s obvious, but I am confident that we are competitive. It’s not like we’re going to concede anything because Dame’s not here. This is an opportunity for other guys to step in to larger roles and you have to be confident in this league. You have no chance if you’re not.”
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