Just when it was looking like these couldn’t get much worse for the Portland Trail Blazers, they drop potentially their most devastating news of the year. According to the team, star guard Damian Lillard sprained his knee and won’t be able to play in Game 5 versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
This comes shortly after Lillard was able to play through a dislocated finger he suffered in Game 2. He’s been battling ever since the Blazers got into the bubble and even won the MVP award for the seeding games. Lillard has put together one of the most impressive runs in NBA history. Unless a miracle happens, it looks like that run will come to an end.
Lillard is the type of player who can play through the pain so the knee sprain must be pretty bad if he can’t tough it out.
What This Means for Lakers-Blazers Series
Unfortunately for the Blazers, their title hopes were already fading before Lillard got injured and now they’re all but dead. After an impressive performance in Game 1, Portland doesn’t look like they even belong on the same court as the Lakers. Even when Lillard was healthy in Game 2, Los Angeles was blowing them out.
The Blazers do have enough talent to upset a Lakers team that might take it easy with a 3-1 lead and no Lillard to worry about. Carmelo Anthony could turn back the clock and CJ McCollum is capable of having a big game. However, it’s hard to imagine that happens. The Lakers are just too good and it’s clear Portland doesn’t have an answer for LeBron James or Anthony Davis.
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Disappointing End to an Epic Run?
If the Blazers are unable to upset the Lakers on Wednesday, that would mean that Lillard’s epic run is over. Even if they are able to push it to a Game 6 or 7, there’s no guarantee their star will be healthy in time to play, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Portland was always going to have a tough task in the first round of the playoffs. They had to play incredibly hard in every single seeding game while the Lakers were able to take it easy.
Though the ending will likely be disappointing, it doesn’t discount the greatness that Lillard has shown over the last month. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the great offensive forces in the NBA. The recent run was very impressive but it’s hard to not see this season as a disappointment. Portland finished under .500 and is probably getting knocked out in the first round. They’ve kept the same group of guys together for a pretty long time now and it’s just starting to look like they’re never going to get over the hump.
Lillard is as loyal as they come and as long as he’s a Blazer, they’ll be relevant in the Western Conference. That said, this team isn’t winning a championship anytime soon. Eventually, Lillard might have to make the hard choice to go to a real title contender.
Follow Austin Boyd on Twitter: @austincjboyd